That Is The Question!
Enjoying those May flowers? I know we sure are!
Today I want to talk with you about an extremely important topic – that’s right, your pelvic floor. If you’ve been following along with our content for a while, you may already know some things about it, but today, let’s see if I can share some new tips and tricks for you.
Let’s Start With What It Is
While technically the collection of muscles we refer to as the pelvic floor isn’t really a floor at all so much as a sling or a hammock of sorts, it IS vitally important to your health, vitality, and general wellbeing for a whole host of reasons. There’s a reason this part of the body is known as the “root” in many traditions! It truly is at the root of a whole lot of issues, and when your root is healthy, supple, and strong, the entire rest of your body can more easily and quickly recover from whatever challenges life sends its way.
If you’ve ever been pregnant, and even if you haven’t, today’s exercise is a gamechanger – but you’ll want to watch out for a few things to avoid!
Kegels – Are They All They’re Cracked Up To Be?
If you’re a woman of pretty much any age, it’s likely you’ve been told by your doctor at least once that Kegels are good for you. But are they?
In All Things, Moderation
A Kegel is a type of exercise specifically designed to strengthen the pelvic floor. It’s a wonderful tool for supporting women through the postpartum or after any other kind of pelvic floor trauma, and it can make a world of difference for people struggling with incontinence, early stage prolapse, or postpartum recovery.
With that in mind, it’s important to note that Kegels are NOT ideal for anyone dealing with a condition known as hypertonicity. This condition is known to cause pelvic pain and difficulty with urination and bowel evacuation, and can be made worse by pelvic strengthening exercises. In these cases, the problem isn’t a lack of tone (which Kegels would address) but rather an excess of tone. Before you begin any kind of pelvic exercise routine, it is important you be assessed by a pelvic floor PT, because in the case of hypertonicity, you can do more harm than good if you just start squeezing away without a clear understanding of what’s happening.
Dr. Sarah Adds More Nuance
A few key takeaways:
- Keep it even.
When practicing Kegels, keep all four “corners” of the pelvic floor in mind and think about drawing them up and in like you’re gathering the strings of a lovely velvet jewelry bag together. Think about keeping the squeeze even on all sides!
- No need to ride the elevator to the top floor!
As you start to squeeze, imagine that you’re riding an internal elevator up inside your body. As you start to draw those muscles in towards each other, the elevator takes you to higher and higher levels in the skyscraper of your body. The fullest, tightest, strongest expression of this exercise would be, say, floor 10, but really, all we’re going for here is to go from the parking garage in the basement up to the lobby in the first floor, or maaaaaybe the salon on the second floor. Once you get to that first or second metaphorical floor, maintain that same level of engagement for a count of 10, and then let it go. (No judgement if you need to sing the Frozen song while doing so.)
- Relax fully in between each exercise.
Once you’ve gone up to the lobby or the salon and come back down to the basement, it is of vital importance that you let the muscles relax FULLY before beginning again. Give yourself at least a few seconds to let everything come back into homeostasis, and then begin again.
Ideally you want to do about ten rounds of this gentle contraction and release at a time, but feel free to work your way up to that if it feels like a lot.
- Flick it!
I’m talking about your pelvic floor muscles, you silly things!
Once you’ve gotten your pelvic floor strong and stable with the elevator exercise, you’re now ready to practice another version, called “quick flicks”. These are basically the same exact exercise, but instead of riding up and down that elevator slowly and steadily, you can maybe think of it a bit more like bungee jumping – it’s a lot quicker! You’ll want to squeeze, release, squeeze, release, as quickly as you can for ten rounds.
This one is usually quite tricky if you’re not experienced with the earlier exercise, and it’s really best to practice this one under the guidance of a pelvic floor expert like on of our pelvic PTs.
Kegels are a great start, but as we covered earlier, they can sometimes do more harm than good if not properly practiced or if there are other complications at the root. This is why it is so, so important to get checked out by a PT. During your initial assessment, the pelvic PT will take their time to assess everything going on with you and can highlight things you may not have even been aware of so you can make the changes necessary before anything worsens.
Click the link above or the button below, or call us at 262.264.8701 to chat with us about how we can help get you on the path to better movement.
Ready for a bit more comprehensive care? Book a full Evaluation + TREATMENT session for 50% off regular price!
Now through the month of May, you can come in as a new or returning patient and receive 50% off your first hands-on session with us. But don’t snooze on it as May will be over before you know it!