Are you trying to remember to do your kegels but left wondering if it is even accomplishing anything?
You aren’t alone.
There is no one size fits all exercise! In the case of pelvic floor dysfunction, kegels are not the savior. Pelvic floor issues can include tightness, weakness, pressure, heaviness, leakage, and pain. Kegels is isolation don’t create much change.
Humans move dynamically so in the case of retraining your pelvic floor it makes much more sense to train the connection and the timing of the muscles with activity.
The diaphragm and pelvic floor have a unique relationship that works in unison. This connection can help to retrain timing and coordination, to balance pressure, and to learn how to match the tension to the task. Sometimes it’s about learning to Kegel and sometimes it about learning to let go.
The Connected Breath
This video shows you how to connect your breath to the pelvic floor. Your pelvic floor muscles work automatically with the breath but this is one way to slow it down and test your Kegel contraction.
This connection can also be done in sitting and standing.
One key tip is to think of your Kegel as “picking up a tissue.” It should be light and gentle not squeezing and gripping as if you were crumpling a tissue with your hand.
Are you a breath holder when you exercise? Some people know right away that they hold their breath. If this is you, then you may benefit from keeping the inhale and exhale flowing during exercise. However, breath holding may be a beneficial strategy with powerlifting so it’s not always bad just need to look at it in the right context.
In fitness classes, we are told time and again to brace the abs and squeeze the glutes during exercise. Bracing the abs can make it harder to inhale and may increase tension in the pelvic floor. Tension in the pelvic floor changes the way the muscles act on impact and could contribute to incontinence. To try a different strategy practice less bracing with your next HIIT workout. Keep breathing and keep the body light with movement. This may help to reduce tension in the pelvic floor and change your symptoms.
One key tip is to match the tension to the task. You don’t need to create the same amount of tension for a load that is 50% of your 1RM as you do for the 1RM itself.
If you are an athlete experiencing pelvic floor symptoms with exercise, contact me and we will create a personalized plan for you to be able to return to favorite activity.
Moving Beyond Kegels
Shelley is a female athlete who suffered from incontinence for 16 years. We talk a lot about breathing and creating different strategies so the body can adapt. This is a common story for so many others and in order to stimulate change for people we need to think beyond kegels.