30 Apr The BIG Question: To Kegel or Not to Kegel?
For the longest time, the information out there for women who were having any sort of pelvic floor issue like prolapse or incontinence, was to do kegels. But, in the last few years, the message has been changing. Now you’re probably starting to hear don’t do kegels because your pelvic floor may be “too tight”. So, what gives with the kegel?
What’s a kegel?
The term was coined in the 1940’s by an American gynaecologist named Arnold Kegel who described the exercises as squeezing the pelvic floor muscles. The belief for people was that “issues down there” were the result of weakness in the pelvic floor and that the solution was doing multiple kegels each day.
Your pelvic floor needs more
Now, skip ahead a few years. We have the technology to perform more in-depth research. We know more about how the body works and specifically, how the pelvic floor works. Research shows the pelvic floor is a very dynamic group of muscles that need to do more than just tighten.
We know that when they have the right amount of tension, they’re in their happy place and they do their job. However, like the other muscles in the body, they need to be able to contract and relax. When they’re not needed as much, they should be able to calm down and let some tension go OR ramp up and work harder when something like a cough or sneeze comes on. So, what’s the answer then?
To kegel or not to kegel?
The answer is different for every individual. Some will require strengthening and so doing kegels is beneficial. Meanwhile, others will require learning how to relax the pelvic floor. When the pelvic floor isn’t functioning well, you may be experiencing any or all of the following:
- vaginal or rectal heaviness or prolapse
- low back pain
- pelvic pain
- painful sex
However, the reason could be:
1. Your pelvic floor is too weak.
2. Your pelvic floor isn’t relaxing so it’s tired and giving way.
3. Your pelvic floor isn’t working with its teammates (other deep core muscles).
4. Or a combination of the above.
Find your sweet spot
Your pelvic floor needs to find its sweet spot, while still having the ability to chill out and amp up, depending on what you are doing. It also needs to be a team player and coordinate with the rest of the deep core muscles to serve as your body’s foundation. You need to be able to do both and kegels may or may not be a part of your recovery journey.