Doing Kegel’s Correctly
Do you know how to do a Kegel correctly? Most women don’t! Yet kegel exercises are all the rage. They are the most popular piece of advice given to women for any condition in the pelvic region. Yet many women don’t know how to engage their pelvic floor muscles correctly. Let me explain the correct way to contract these muscles.
To figure out what needs to be contracted let’s find the boney landmarks that house the pelvic floor muscles. Sit on a hard chair and roll your pelvis forward so you become aware of your pubic bone coming into contact with the chair. Then roll your pelvis backwards so your tailbone feels the contact of the chair. Then move your weight over to one side so you feel your sit bone in contact with the chair and then repeat to the other side. You have just contacted all four boney landmarks to where your pelvic floor muscles attach. To contract your pelvic floor muscles think about pulling your pelvic floor muscles up and inside your pelvis while bringing all four of those boney landmarks together. Imagine a purse string being pulled tight to gather all the material to close the purse.
If you are doing a kegel correctly you should not have any muscles on the outside of your body visibly contracting. Nobody should know you are doing a kegel. If your pelvic floor muscles are weak or you don’t know how to activate them correctly, your butt, leg and abdominal muscles kick in to try and help out.
In order to make sure you are doing the exercise correctly there are two positions you can get into that guarantee you are contracting only your pelvic floor muscles. One position is sitting in a chair with your knees spread wide open and leaning forward with your trunk. Your arms can rest on your legs. As you contract your pelvic floor muscles your legs should remain still.
An even better position is child’s pose. In this position you are kneeling on the floor, sitting back so that your butt is resting on your heels and your body is draped over your thighs with you arms either out in front of you or by your sides. There is no way you can contract anything but the pelvic floor muscles in this position. If you don’t feel anything happening between your sit bones then your pelvic floor muscles are either too weak or just not contracting.
Another way to figure out if you are contracting your pelvic floor muscles correctly is to try and stop the flow of urine. If you can stop the flow or are able to deflect it a bit then those are your pelvic floor muscles you are using to make that happen. As you try this pay attention to what is happening in those muscles to get a feel for that contraction.
Warning! It is important that you do not test your muscles by stopping the flow of urine all the time. Testing your contraction ability about once a month is preferred. If you stop the flow of urine too often your bladder gets confused and doesn’t know if it should start or stop the flow. The nervous system that controls the bladder is very sensitive and you don’t want to be messing it up by testing your muscles too frequently. Remember testing about once a month should be tops!
Normal Strength of the Pelvic Floor
A strong pelvic floor muscle should be able to hold a contraction for 10 seconds. See how long you can hold your contraction before the muscles fade away from weakness. You can work on trying to hold the contraction for 10 seconds by just reengaging the muscle for the duration of those 10 seconds and then relaxing. Just do 3 sets of these 10-second holds and then you could be done, for the hour. Doing that every hour will hopefully improve your strength. If it doesn’t get stronger or you have difficulty even engaging the muscles, stay tuned for my next post on the problems with kegel’s.