Kegels are a very common exercise to help you strengthen your Pelvic Floor, but there is a ton of misinformation out there about Kegel Exercises, let’s clear this up!
Often times I sit with a new patient who has been recommended by their health care provider to do Kegels in order to strengthen their pelvic floor, and they say to have tried it many times and nothing works, in these cases, after a full examination (which I describe in my blog post First Pelvic Exam: What to expect!) if by the end I see they do in fact need Kegels, I sit with my patients and explain to them the best ways to do Kegel Exercises successfully.
The very first thing you should know is how your pelvic floor works, and identify it within your body, most times the issue some of my patients have encountered is having a disconnection with their pelvic floor and that is what makes it so difficult for them to do Kegels Successfully. There are many techniques you can use in order to identify your Pelvic Floor successfully, thankfully, I have an Instagram post showing you the best techniques to do so!
While utilizing the techniques I just mentioned, it’s time to find the best position in which you can do a Kegel routine safely. I recommend testing these 3 positions:
- Lie down on your back
- Sitting up on an exercise ball
- Lie on your side with a comfortable pillow (To align your body and avoid fighting gravity)
Try them all, make sure you are comfortable and able to connect with your pelvic floor easily and effectively before starting your Kegel routine. To successfully do kegels you can do these 3 simple steps:
- Squeeze the rectal sphincter muscle gently as if you are trying to avoid passing gas.
- Close the vaginal opening muscle, to make it easier you can visualize there is a string pulling your vaginal opening up.
- Combine step 1 and step 2. Isolate your rectal and vaginal muscles together, imagine there is a chord pulling your pelvic muscles up and the slowly let go.
If you want more examples and important information about how to safely do a Kegel, you can check my video below on my new YouTube channel, in it I go over how to do a Kegel, a few cues on how to identify your pelvic floor, and how to know if the Kegels are being done properly, along with some words of caution.
Connecting to your Breathing for the best Kegel Exercises Routine!
Your pelvic floor benefits greatly from diaphragmatic breathing, more commonly known as belly breathing. I am a huge advocate for breathing as a form of healing, it does wonders for your state of mind, releasing tension in your body, reducing stress, and anxiety, so I heavily recommend using it as well for your KEGEL routine!
In my blog post talking all about the connection between Mindful Meditation & Chronic Pain, I discuss the many ways relaxing your body through deep breathing can be helpful in managing chronic pelvic pain.
The reason why belly breathing is so good for your pelvic floor is because your diaphragm and your pelvic floor are mirror images of each other. The diaphragm is the primary muscle for breathing, it attaches right at the base of your rib cage, and it’s a muscle that must be used in order to properly do pelvic floor exercises.
In one of my videos, I explain the mechanics of the diaphragm along with some of the best exercises you can do in order to create the most effective KEGELs routine, remembering it’s all about the breathing, and how to make sure gravity works on your favor, this is particularly helpful for beginners!
Common Mistakes you can do when you start a Kegel routine
- Mistake #1: breathing with your accessory muscles. Upper chest breathing is never going to help you create your pelvic floor strengthening goals, you have to remember to breathe through your diaphragm or as we call it the belly breathing.
- Mistake #2: this is a big one, overdoing Kegels! You have to remember that pelvic floor muscles are very tiny muscles, the pelvic floor actually looks like a bowl, but interestingly enough the length of your pelvic floor muscles is not more than maybe 2 inches. So, when you are trying to exercise please do not do many many kegels at once, at the max I would say one to two sets of 10 and then you must give rest to your pelvic floor muscle, if you don’t, you’re going to increase signs of urinary incontinence and increase downwards pressure which is going to work against you strengthening your pelvic floor.
- Mistake #3: Very commonly when you are trying to practice Kegels, you start in standing position, big mistake! We always have to start kegels in the supine position, sometimes with a little pillow underneath your pelvis this is going to help you strengthen your muscles without the effect of gravity. I suggest you start in supine, then sitting, and then proceed to standing. This sequencing is going to help you strengthen your pelvic floor safely and effectively and not get frustrated when you are trying to get the muscles stronger.
- Mistake #4: Using accessory muscles or bigger muscles in order to get your pelvic floor stronger. The gluteal muscles or the butt muscles being used excessively instead of the pelvic floor, this is not going to work to make your pelvic floor stronger. Another muscle commonly misused when you are trying to do kegel exercises is your thigh muscle or your abductor muscle. So remember, when you have to do your pelvic floor strengthening, those muscles have to be used in isolation and not being masked by other muscles in your body.
- Mistake #5: is lack of persistence! Remember, Kegels exercises, kegel strengthening or pelvic floor strengthening is more about training your brain to be aware of your pelvic floor as many many times there’s a disconnect between your brain and your pelvic floor muscle. So, persistence is the key, you must do your pelvic floor strengthening routine, each and every day, although remember to do it in small chunks or as we call it snack bite size routines. Okay? So, not to excessive strengthening but strengthening in small chunks every day, that’s the key to get a healthy pelvic floor.
If you want to see me explain these mistakes, click on the video down below!
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