Kegels. Is that all there is?
Often we hear, “My doctor recommended kegels for my symptoms. Is that all there is?” The answer is no. Kegels are not enough for a healthy, happy pelvic floor. There are several options and ways to train your pelvic floor muscles and comprehensively your core. As humans, we are more dynamic and complex than a “lift and squeeze” of the muscles located in our pelvis. Whether you have pelvic floor dysfunction or not, the awareness of the pelvic floor muscles is one component, but not the only component.
The pelvic floor is made up of a group of muscles that acts as a sling or hammock to support several organs. For optimal function, muscles require strength, flexibility, and motor control. Without these three factors working synergistically, muscular dysfunction is likely. Muscular dysfunction of the pelvic floor can present as urinary incontinence, fecal incontinence, prolapse, painful sex, constipation, tailbone pain, and much more.
Strength is being able to produce the necessary force to accomplish a goal. When lifting a bag of groceries to place on the counter, this means having enough force to lift the bag off of the ground. When needing to pee, this means being able to hold it in the bladder. If weakness is present, you may be unable to lift the bag of groceries or delay urine.
Flexibility is having the ability to reach the bag or “lengthen the muscles.” If you don’t have enough flexibility in your bicep muscle, you may not be able to straighten out your arm to be able to lift the bag. This is the starting point for the pelvic floor. The muscles have to be able to fully lengthen before having the ability to have an optimal contraction.
- Motor Control:
Motor control is your brain’s ability to tell your muscles what to do. For example, if you see the bag on the floor and you want to place it on the counter. Your brain sends signals to your arm telling your arm to straighten out, grab the bag, and lift it to the counter. No problem. However, if your brain cannot find your muscles in space, it can’t control them. Often, people tend to have difficulty “finding or sensing” the pelvic floor muscles. Most of us have never had to tell our brain to communicate with these muscles or the muscles may not respond because they have sustained injury after surgery.
If you are given kegels as your only exercise or solution to pelvic floor dysfunction, please reach out to a pelvic health physical therapist for a proper evaluation and further recommendation.
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