Stop Kegels! Here’s What You Should Be Doing for Your Vagina

 

Women are often advised to do Kegels in order to strengthen their pelvic floor for better bladder control or sexual functioning. The Kegels, which involves tightening and releasing of pelvic floor sphincter muscles, is supposed to prevent incontinence and sexual problems. It is also frequently recommended to exercises for pregnant women for easier delivery. However, as research shows, you may be actually doing more harm than good to your body with Kegels. As it turns out, the problem with the pelvic floor is much more complex than we initially thought and exercising just one set of muscles is not the answer. To help you gain a better understanding of the problem at hand, we’ve done some research on this topic, and you can read about that here.

The Pelvic Floor and Stiff Muscles

Nicole Crawford who is a certified yoga instructor and an expert in post-natal fitness has explained the problem with the Kegels exercise in her recent article. With the help of Katy Bowman’s knowledge on proper pelvic floor functioning, Crawford explains that pelvic floor dysfunction is not always a result of weak pelvic floor muscles but also due to stiff and over-trained muscles. The two experts recommend that instead of overdoing it with the Kegels, women who are expecting should also train the glutes and sacrum muscles as well. After all, proper body biomechanics depend on the harmony of all muscle groups and overtraining one while neglecting others simply doesn’t make any sense as far as anatomy is concerned.

Studies on Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

The two major risk factors that could contribute to pelvic floor dysfunction are childbirth and aging as explained in an article published in Diseases of the Colon and Rectum. And while weakened pelvic floor muscles may be one cause of pelvic floor dysfunction, a frequently overlooked problem is non relaxing pelvic floor dysfunction. An article published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings explains that women who present with non specific symptoms such as problems with defecation, urination, and sexual functioning may actually be suffering from unrelaxed pelvic floor muscles. The major reason why women develop stiff pelvic floor muscles is because of dysfunctional voiding and defecation that women acquired through their adulthood by holding in when they should be letting out.

Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

Also See: Effective Bladder Control Formula!

What does this have to do with Kegels?

Well, if women develop a less recognized dysfunction of the pelvic floor caused by not going to the bathroom when you should, then we should assume that Kegel’s might also cause a similar negative effect. The common recommendation for doing Kegels is squeezing the same muscles that you squeeze while holding urine. While this is great for women with a weakened pelvic floor, women with a tight pelvic floor probably won’t benefit from this exercise very much. Instead, researchers from the Mayo Clinic recommend exercising the surrounding muscles of the pelvis in order to create a balanced muscle tone.

Other Causes of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

Gait abnormalities, skeletal asymmetry, as well as prolonged sitting, can lead to problems with the pelvic floor. Scientists explain that the spine, legs, hips, abdomen, and pelvis are a connected kinetic chain so any abnormality in just one part of this chain could damage other parts of the chain. In other words, overcompensation in one part (pelvic floor) and dysfunction in the other (glutes muscles) could be the problem at hand. In other words, if your gait and spine are anatomically incorrect, then doing Kegel’s won’t provide much relief from sexual dysfunction, incontinence nor assist in easier labor.

What Exercises Should I do?

The first thing you should do is start strengthening your butt with squats. Katy Bowman recommends pregnant women squat throughout the day when lifting things up. She explains that squatting is not really an exercise but a basic human movement that we’ve unfairly neglected. The Mayo Clinic recommends learning to release the pelvic muscles as both relaxation and tightening for vagina are important for normal pelvic floor and sexual functioning. In addition to pelvic floor therapy, most programs today include exercise for core strengthening (think squatting) and joint flexibility. If you are a woman experiencing pain during sex, it may be due to your pelvic floor muscles in which case you’ll need to seek help from a sex therapist to see if other problems other than poor pelvic floor functioning are to blame.

Normal Pelvic Floor

Conclusion

Although Kegels is great for some women, it may not be all too good for others. This is because different women may develop different problems with the pelvic floor that can’t be corrected with one exercise alone. Squats, muscle relaxation techniques, core exercising, and joint flexibility are all important to maintain whole-body kinetics in order to keep that pelvic floor healthy and functional. It’s also a good idea to seek advice from a physical therapist or another specialist to see what exactly may be causing your pelvic floor problems.

References:

  • http://breakingmuscle.com/womens-fitness/stop-doing-kegels-real-pelvic-floor-advice-for-women-and-men
  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3498251/
  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3498251/
 
 
Author

Expert Author : Dr. Ahmed Zayed (Consumer Health Digest)

Dr. Ahmed Zayed Helmy holds a baccalaureate of Medicine and Surgery. He has completed his degree in 2011 at the University of Alexandria, Egypt. Dr. Ahmed believes in providing knowledgeable information to readers. Other than his passion for writing, currently he is working as a Plastic surgeon and is doing his masters at Ain shams University.