The pelvic floor muscles span from the pubic bone to the coccyx and from one sit bone to the other –
they form a hammock that support the pelvic organs.
Our pelvic floor must be able to contract and relax to assist with bladder, bowel and sexual function. They are also very important in keeping our core strong and our backs healthy.
Like all other muscles, the pelvic floor muscles can weaken, become tense or cause pain. Pelvic floor dysfunctions can be caused by weak OR tight pelvic floor muscles.
- Weak pelvic floor muscles (hypotonicity) are often associated with urinary incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse. Tight pelvic floor muscles (hypertonicity) can be associated to incontinence too (i.e. urgency) as well as pelvic pain and pain during intercourse
Kegels can increase the strength of the pelvic floor and may improve or even eliminate bladder leakage, enhance sexual function, reduce pelvic pain, decrease risk of pelvic organ prolapse and more.
How to perform a proper Kegel (*if you know they are right for you)
The easiest position to perform a Kegel is lying down on your back with your knees bent. Contract the pelvic floor muscles by thinking of holding in urine or gas.
Watch out for common errors when performing a Kegel:
- Make sure you are not contracting your bum muscles, abs or inner thigh muscles – if someone were to be watching you do your contractions they shouldn’t be able to tell you are working out!!
- You should not be holding in your breath while contracting
That said, Kegels are NOT always the appropriate physiotherapy treatment!! For example, in individuals with already existing tight pelvic floor muscles, Kegels, which are used to tighten, may potentially do more harm than good! We suggest you consult your doctor or pelvic health specialist if you are unsure.
A pelvic floor physiotherapist is trained in assessing and treating dysfunctions of the pelvic floor. With the patients consent, Assessments and treatments involve internal and external techniques, which focus on the structures surrounding the pelvic girdle, low back and hips.
Pelvic Health Solutions, 2019. Retrieved from https://pelvichealthsolutions.ca/for-the-patient/what-is-pelvic-floor-physiotherapy/ on September 19, 2019.