If you are a woman, chances are you and kegels have crossed paths before. Kegels have traditionally been the only thing 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. If kegels fail, the traditional next option is surgery. But I have been a physical therapist for over ten years and own a practice focused on women returning to activities they love with a healthy pelvic floor and need to tell you that there are three specific reason that kegels fail for many 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? 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 pelvic floor can cause symptoms similar to a weak pelvic floor such as 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. So it should be trained during different functional activities to react with proper timing and with proper force. By performing traditional kegels, you are training yourself to react with the most force you can create during all activities. This can and does cause even more problems than a weak pelvic floor and is the most common problem I see in women experiencing incontinence. They have trained their pelvic floor to overreact and now it overreacts all the time.
Take Our Free Pelvic and Core Health Mini-Course
In this course, you will get a series of three videos sent to your email to see EXACTLY what I teach my patients on breathing and managing the pressure in their abdomen during their initial treatment sessions when they present with one of these three issues. Enjoy!