Kegels. We hear a lot about them and how important they are but do you really know how to activate and strengthen your pelvic floor muscles? I have found a majority of women (and men!) do not and have always been too embarrassed to ask, so here’s the 411 on how to become a kegel master!
First-The Pelvic Floor Musculature
Many people only think of their “6-pack” and obliques when they work their core muscles. The musculature of the pelvic floor are considered part of the “core” muscles as well. Your pelvic floor supports the uterus, bladder, and bowels. These muscles act to stop the flow of urine or produce a bowel movement. A strong pelvic floor can prevent incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse (when a pelvic organ such as the bladder drops from its normal spot in the lower belly and pushes against the walls of the vagina). Both of these conditions are often linked to pregnancy and childbirth which makes training the pelvic floor before, during and after pregnancy a MUST! These muscles are also involved in guiding the infant out of the birth canal and are the muscles that are cut during an episiotomy.
I know they are important but how do I find them?
Finding your pelvic floor is something that gets taught incorrectly all the time. It’s not as simple as activating the muscle that stops the flow of urine. Doing this is only half a kegel. Think of your pelvic floor as a grid. Not only do you want to activate the muscles that stop the flow of urine, but you also want to activate the muscle that would keep you from passing gas. Basically, engage everything you need to not pee your pants or fart. 😛 Got it? That’s a full kegel.
It’s not easy at first and takes some practice but the beauty of kegels is that you can practice them anywhere. I practice on the subway, on walks with the dog, while on line at the grocery store…and absolutely no one knows!
A few exercises to try
- Hold your full kegel for a count of 10 and release. Repeat 5 x’s
- Try some “elevators”. Engage a full kegel- this is your top floor. Slowly release as if you are an elevator and traveling down to the ground floor of a building. Reverse the exercise to travel from the ground up.
- Incorporate kegels into your crunches. As you crunch up and activate your abs, engage your full pelvic floor as well.
Love & Leafy Greens,