What is a Kegel Exercise?
What is a Kegel exercise?
Kegel exercise is the American term used to describe exercising and strengthening the pelvic floor muscles.
The pelvic floor is a group of muscles and ligaments that line the bottom of the pelvis. If we did not have a pelvic floor, there would be no support beneath our bladder, uterus and rectum.Kegel exercise is the American term used to describe exercising and strengthening the pelvic floor muscles #physio Click To Tweet
The problem with weakening or pelvic floor damage
If there is weakening or damage to the pelvic floor muscles or ligaments, then there is less support to the bladder, uterus or rectum. This can lead to problems such as prolapse, pain during intercourse, and/or incontinence. This is why it is so important to start doing your Kegel/pelvic floor exercises and get into a great habit that will prevent problems down the track.
Contracting the Pelvic Floor
Because the pelvic floor is a group of deep muscles that you cannot see and are difficult to feel contracting. It is important to find a ‘cue’ that works best for you to generate activity in the muscles.
Some cues that I have used in the past with clients have included;
- Imagine like you are drawing inwards and upwards through your vagina
- Squeeze your anus like you were preventing wind escape
- Perform the contraction you would use to stop the flow of urine
- For the males – imagine drawing your testicles upwards towards your stomach
- When lying on your back or sitting, if you place your finger on your perineum (the area between your urethra and anus) you should feel the muscles tighten/lift when you perform the contraction
Assessing Pelvic Floor Function
If you have trouble activating your pelvic floor or are just unsure if you are doing it correctly, you can see a women’s health physiotherapist who can perform an internal examination to feel if you are contracting your pelvic floor correctly. This involves performing a pelvic floor contraction while the physiotherapist feels if the muscles are activating by inserting a finger into the vagina. This is a way to tell if you are performing the contraction correctly and you can leave with peace of mind that you are not wasting your time doing an exercise incorrectly.If you are having trouble activating your pelvic floor see a women's health physiotherapist #physio @pogophysio Click To Tweet
Everyone is different with how strong their pelvic floor is as well as how long they can hold a contraction for (endurance). It is important that you challenge your pelvic floor and get to some degree of fatigue. For this reason, some people who have problems such as incontinence, performing your exercises at the end of the day is better to prevent you from having to function throughout the day with a tired pelvic floor.
Starting Out With Your Pelvic Floor Exercises
A goal we like to use as women’s health physiotherapists is to have the client reach doing ten reps of 10 second holds of the pelvic floor. Some women will need to start with ten lots of 2 seconds holds, others with 4 reps of 5 second holds, everyone is different and you need to do what is best for you and work your way up from there.
For more information, or a confidential chat book your Discover Recover Session with Emily George HERE.
Emily Georgopoulos (APAM)
Special Interest Women’s Health