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%?
I have been a physical therapist for over thirteen years and own a practice focused on women returning to activities they love with a healthy pelvic floor. Our specialists know that there is so much more to offer women than just one exercise. Here are the top 3 reasons we see kegels fail for women and what else women can do to recover!
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? With the women I work with, I want to discover why the pelvic floor is not functioning correctly before prescribing exercises.
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 muscle will only make it tighter. A tight, short pelvic floor that cannot relax then becomes weak and can cause symptoms of incontinence and pelvic pain.
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 one way and when you are laying or sitting. Most women have symptoms of pelvic floor problems when they are up and moving. We need to train the muscles to react correctly in the movements where the symptoms happen.