If you are a woman, chances are you and kegels have crossed paths before. Kegels have traditionally been the ONLY exercise prescribed to women trying to recover after giving birth. Unfortunately, studies have shown that pelvic floor muscle training programs (kegels) are successful for only about 55% of women. So what about the other 45%?
As a pelvic health and orthopedic physical therapist, I see and hear the frustration women have when they have dedicated hours to kegels without results. Here are the top 3 reasons our specialists see kegels fail for women:
1. PELVIC FLOOR WEAKNESS IS NOT ACTUALLY YOUR PROBLEM
Traditional pelvic floor exercises, such as kegels, treat the symptom of the pelvic floor weakness. But is your pelvic floor actually weak? Or is your problem that the communication between your brain and the pelvic floor has been disrupted due to having a baby, having surgery, changing medication, trauma, or having been on bed rest? If your problem is not strength than kegels are NOT the right exercise for you and will not work to solve your problem.
2. YOUR PELVIC FLOOR MUSCLES MAY BE TOO TIGHT
Many women have pelvic floor muscles that are too tight. Performing a kegel exercise on top of an already too tight muscles will only make them tighter. A tight, short pelvic floor that cannot relax disrupts the balance of your core and often leads to symptoms of incontinence and pelvic pain. If you have a tight pelvic floor then kegels are NOT the right exercise for you.
3. THE TIMING AND STRENGTH OF YOUR KEGEL
A healthy pelvic floor responds automatically to stress from gravity, movement activities, and increased pressure in your abdomen. Your pelvic floor should react differently depending on the type of challenge. For example, your pelvic floor will need a stronger contraction when you are lifting your toddler vs. lifting a pencil. Training the pelvic floor with proper timing and with proper force is essential for healthy function. A traditional kegel trains your pelvic floor to react in one position with one amount of strength and almost always while laying down. Most women have symptoms of pelvic floor problems when they are standing up and moving. A traditional kegel will not improve your symptoms unless trained with position and amount of strength needed in mind.After working with women for years who have pelvic floor symptoms, we have discovered our clients present with 4 different types of pelvic floor issues. Hint...only one type responds to kegels. So if kegels haven't worked for you, take the quiz here to find out your type and what to do next.