To kegel or not to kegel? Usha Anandi, founder of Womben Wellness explains all.
With the popularity of this exercise on the rise, this is certainly the question.
Kegels are pelvic floor exercises named after Dr. Arnold Kegel, a man so humble that he had to name women’s pelvic floor exercises after his own last name.
After the invention of kegels by Dr. Kegel in the 1940s, it was recommended that women practice up to 200 repetitions daily.
This prescribed regime was created not with the woman’s health in mind, but with the intention of making her vagina tighter and her personality less timid so she could more easily satisfy her husband.
I think we can all agree that the name kegel should be forgotten, along with the racist, eugenics supporting Doctor who ‘created’ it.
In the spirit of creating change in the women’s health industry, I’ll refer to what is most popularly known as kegels instead as “pelvic floor strengthening exercises”.
Pelvic floor strengthening exercises are the most popular recommendation for a non-surgical solution to incontinence (peeing when you laugh, cough, jump or sneeze) and pelvic organ prolapse.
And although pelvic floor strengthening exercises may be helpful for the above conditions, they are in no way the answer for everything.
Below I’ll share with you 3 things you should know about pelvic floor strengthening before you decide to try it.
Because remember, in some cases strengthening your pelvic floor can make problems worse.
Before you try strengthening or changing up your pre-existing strengthening routine, I want to make sure you’re strengthening your pelvic floor the right way.
And after working with thousands of women in all stages of life, I’ve learned a few things about who should be strengthening their pelvic floor, how to strengthen them, and more.
To start your pelvic floor strengthening practice, check out my top three tips below to help you integrate pelvic floor strengthening exercises into your life in an easy, effective way.
1. Pelvic floor strengthening exercises aren’t for everyone
Although pelvic floor strengthening exercises can help improve muscle tone, reduce incontinence, and lift prolapsed organs, they aren’t the answer for everyone.
Many of the issues that women seek out pelvic strengthening for can actually be made worse by practicing them.
If pelvic organs are too weak, pelvic strengthening exercises may help. But if pelvic organs are too tight, strengthening may only exacerbate the issue.
Overexercising, high stress, and unintegrated trauma can all lead to pelvic floor muscles that are too tight.
Here are some clues that your pelvic floor muscles may be overly tight:
- Low back pain
- Pain during intercourse
- Pelvic pain
- Frequency of urinating
- Urgency to urinate
For those experiencing the above symptoms, lengthening and relaxing exercises like this one should be practiced in place of strengthening.
2. Make sure your practicing strengthening exercises correctly
Although most people know what pelvic floor strengthening exercises are, few know how to practice them the right way.
In fact, research shows that up to 30% of women practice pelvic floor strengthening incorrectly. Remember that when “kegels” first became popularized, Dr. Kegel recommended over 200 repetitions a day?
Fortunately for us, we know that that recommendation was rooted in patriarchy, and that our vaginas and pelvic floor exist for far more than just giving someone else pleasure.
Remember that your pelvic floor muscles don’t exist in a vacuum; they are utilized when you move the rest of your body.
Practicing 8-10 strengthening exercises a day, 3 times a day in the morning, afternoon, and evening should be enough to see increased strength, muscle tone, and control.
A few helpful hints that many forget:
- A full strengthening repetition includes both a squeezing and a RELEASE — so don’t forget to let go and relax at the end of every exercise!
- Never practice pelvic floor strengthening while on the toilet or while trying to fart, poop, or pee. This can confuse the connection between your muscles, pelvic organs, and brain and can further exacerbate challenges.
3. Strengthen your relationship with your pelvic organs
Many womben that I work with practice pelvic floor exercises incorrectly because they don’t know which muscles they’re meant to be strengthening in the first place.
And of course they don’t.
We weren’t taught body literacy at school. And most likely, our Mothers didn’t know much about their pelvic floor either, let alone how to keep them healthy and vital!
Learning about your pelvis and how the bones, muscles, and organs work together is the first step in learning how to take care of yourself.
When you learn how your body works, you can make decisions that help you heal tension, numbness, and pain in the womb space to access greater aliveness and pleasure.
And in my Free Womb Wisdom Guide, I show you how.
This guest post is syndicated and was first published on Womben Wellness all credit is given to the original author, Usha Anandi. If you’re interested in learning more of Usha’s work — you can listen to her episode on THE FULLEST here.