Poor posture, mom pouch, hip pain, back pain, and incontinence are some of the signs your pelvic floor isn’t as strong as it could be. I’m no stranger to this. Let’s say I need extra protection when we’re headed to the jump park.
Of course, blaming the three babies I birthed for the struggle while giggling with my friends at the absurdity of incontinence.
But the truth of the matter is, Kegels are a struggle. I along with much of the population fail to practice Kegels regularly, let alone the correct form. But my posture seems to be worsening and my hip pain is intense at times. No matter how much I workout that mom pouch is still there.
This got me thinking, what is the exact culprit, the source behind it all? It’s your pelvic floor which is the core and linkage point that when strong can impact your entire body.
Today on the podcast I’m interviewing a pelvic floor expert, MaryEllen Reider on:
- How to strengthen your pelvic floor
- The proper way to do Kegels
- If it will get rid of the mom pouch and help my posture
And so much more! It’s a great episode and dives into pelvic floor health for both men and women.
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Kegels the right way
What I’m learning about pelvic floor health is that it’s the central component holding our body together. Triggering pain from our ankles to our neck and everything in between. Not to mention it helps support your bladder, lower intestinal tract, and even your sexual parts.
On the podcast, we dive into all of that, but I did want to clarify that there is a right and wrong way to do a kegel. Today we’re going to explain that along with five other exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor.
what is the pelvic floor?
Before we go there, it is critical to know what the pelvic floor is. I’m sure we can all guess some points, but the nitty gritty will help to make sense of how to strengthen it.
Your pelvic floor consists of the muscles, ligaments, tissues, and nerves that you rarely feel work on a daily basis. As quoted, “The pelvic floor acts like a hammock that supports your bladder, uterus, vagina, and rectum,” So when the pelvic floor is weak, all of these areas can’t function as well as they should.
Do your Kegels
Unfortunately, Kegels don’t’ come as easily as you would think. It’s an intricate motion that can be difficult to complete. The foundation for doing a proper kegel include;
- Pinpointing the right muscles – These happen to be the muscles you would use to stop urination midstream. If you succeed at doing that, you have the correct group of muscles.
- Tighten these muscles, then hold the contraction for 5-8 seconds before gently releasing and resting for five more. Complete ten sets and continue working up to 10 seconds on 10 seconds off ten times.
- Go for reps. Ideally, you’d complete 100 Kegels a day. You could break that up into ten groups of ten 10 and hit them at the top of every hour. But the more Kegels in the proper movement is going to produce the most results.
- Maintain your focus. For best results, focus on tightening only your pelvic floor muscles. Be careful not to flex the muscles in your abdomen, thighs or buttocks. Avoid holding your breath. Instead, breathe freely during the exercises.
If I’m honest, then you’d know that of all the exercises I do, Kegels happen to be the most frustrating. I rarely do them, and when I do, I feel so weak and uncertain that I stop. I know this isn’t the answer, but I never feel like I can get the hang of it enough, especially without firing additional muscle groups, neglecting the pelvic floor to make progress.
That’s why I prefer external devices that stimulate the pelvic floor without you having to start out knowing exactly how.
The Yarlap is one device I would suggest you take a look at. It requires no focus, no thinking and only a few minutes a couple of times a week. Click here to learn all about the Yarlap and purchasing your own – I’ll be sharing my results in an upcoming post, but I can already tell in my stomach and my posture.
Don’t do Kegels
Of course, there are times when Kegels aren’t even appropriate. As Dr. Brianne Grogan, DPT, explains:
Kegels are not for everyone. Some women hold chronic tension in the pelvic floor muscles and their muscles are short and tight most of the day. This often results in pain with intercourse, difficulty initiating urination, a feeling of tension or pain in the pelvic area, and the feeling that “no matter how many kegels I do I still don’t see results!”
For these individuals, kegels should be avoided.
I recommend seeking the care of a women’s health physical therapist who can help you release the pelvic floor muscles and re-balance pelvic floor length and tension using other, more appropriate, exercises.
Now before we throw out kegels altogether, we need to remember: kegels are not “bad.” They are simply an isolated contraction and relaxation of a muscle group, similar to a biceps curl or a hip extension! And for many women (barring the women described above), knowing how to “kegel” can be a great way to improve body awareness and even to spice up one’s sex life.
Successful isolation and contraction of the pelvic floor muscles helps functionally, as a “back-up” to prepare for a big cough/sneeze, when you really have to hold your bladder because there’s no bathroom nearby, or when lifting/pushing/pulling something heavy.
Like anything Kegels aren’t for everyone. Take note of what category you fall into and if all else fails, rely on a product like the Yarlap which can help either type – overstimulated or underused.
There are always other ways to strengthen your pelvic floor. Even plugging away on the elliptical or going on a walk and moving all day can help. Here are five strength exercises to add to your daily routine.
- The Bridge – To complete, lay flat on your back, knees up with heels directly under your knees. Lift your butt up off the ground lifting as high as you can and hold for 3-5 seconds, lower and repeat 10-20 times.
- Wall Squat – With your back against a wall, slowly lower your body down until your hips and knees are at 90-degree angles. Hold for 20-30 seconds, stand and repeat 2-5 times.
- Bird Dog – Start on all fours with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Pull your abs into your spine and expend one arm and the opposite leg. Hold for 5 seconds, slowly lower and repeat ten reps alternating sides.
- Pelvic Tucks – Starting on all fours with your hands under your shoulders and knees under hips drop your head and tuck your pelvis towards your abdomen. Count two in and two out repeating 10-20 times.
- Dead Bug Punch – Lie on your back with your arms extended above your shoulders. Bend your hips and knees to a 90-degree angle. Tighten your abs and press your lower back into the floor. Exhale as you slowly extend your left leg toward the floor bringing your right arm above your head. Slowly return to starting position and repeat on opposite side. Do ten reps each side.
Like anything, constant movement will always help, but a consistent effort at strengthening your pelvic floor can be seen across your health. It’s a practice to add to your daily routine.
If you want to know more about the Yarlap device mentioned in the show check out their site here. You can also get a discount on your own Yarlap kit using the code ALEXA at checkout. That’s $25 off your own system.
Get your own kegel trainer here.
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