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Are you confused about pelvic floor exercises or your Kegels?
And how do you even know if you do them correctly?
You might not even feel if you are doing anything at all, or perhaps you don’t know what you are supposed to feel.
You are not alone.
In this blog, we will guide you to connect with your own body, your pelvic floor, and offer you ideas on how you can check if you are moving your pelvic floor muscles correctly.
There are many ways to work with the pelvic floor. As with all muscles in our body, variation is key. We need different kinds of movements, engagement, stretching, relaxation, long holds, and quicker movements. This variety is super important to create flexibility, strength, and support.
Pelvic floor practises can aim to contract the muscles, such as the classic Kegel exercise. Some aim to relax and release tension. Some to contract specific parts. And then we practise slow movements, holding the engagement and quicker movements
Bringing awareness to the pelvic floor:
But first of all, you need to become aware of the pelvic floor.
Most importantly you need to be able to relax and release any tension. This is about being able to expand rather than “pushing down.” Just like breathing: when you inhale, the rib cage expands in all directions and so does the pelvic floor.
Most women, though, are concerned with strength and tightening the vagina and pelvic floor. However, we don’t want a tight pelvic floor. We might want the tone and strength, but tight muscles are never good.
Instead, think of awareness, then relaxation.
From relaxed flexible muscles, we can create strength! This is how I teach and work with the pelvic floor with my clients. We are all unique and we need to get to know our own body. Then, we can practise with awareness.
Lifting the pelvic floor:
When we engage the pelvic floor muscles, think of lifting in and up. For women, I like to say, “lift toward the cervix or womb,” as this is at the centre of your being.
How do you know if you’re practising correctly?
Cup your hand over the pelvic outlet or vulva. No need to get undressed—you can do this with your clothes on. Resting your hand here, you should be able to feel the pulsations of the breath (if you breathe correctly). On the inhale, there is an expansion, and when exhaling, a gentle contraction.
Get your mirror out and see this movement. Now you need to get naked! You can see the pulsation of the breath at the pelvic floor and perineum. You are not pushing down on the inhale, it’s more of a stretch or expansion. The exhale is just a gentle drawing back together.
Insert a finger or two into the vagina and feel the contraction of the vaginal walls. They should move toward your fingers and lift in and up. And slowly release the hold. If you have a romantic partner, they will be happy to help. During intercourse, practise as you did above. Also, notice what parts of the vaginal muscles engage easier than others. Do both slow and quick movements.
Let’s get more advanced:
Just like you can practise with the whole of the pelvic floor, you can also isolate not just the vaginal muscles but also around the anus. Again, it’s a rising movement. Think of when you use a straw to drink—it’s a bit like that!
Now, engage the muscle at the front near the urinary tract. Think of the sensation of having to pee and trying to hold it. And then release. (By the way, never actually stop the stream of urination. This is only in your imagination.)
And finally: relax and release even more. As with all exercise, it’s so important to be able to cool down and relax. This is no exception. Have a look at this blog to learn why we sometimes get too tight and why we want balance instead.
If you do have any issues around the pelvic floor, have a prolapse, if you have recently given birth, or are just confused or curious, see a professional who can give you an internal examination to see if you’re doing you Kegels correctly.