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  • Robyn Judd DPT, Melissa Ita'aehau DPT

Kegels. You're Doing Them Wrong.

We are here to dispel the rumors and myths surrounding Kegels. Maybe it's because they have a funny name, or because of the direct subject matter which they are tied to, but men and women fail to learn the importance of proper Kegel habits. So without further ado, lets learn about Kegels.

What is a "Kegel" Exercise?

The Kegel is named after the first physician to describe the muscular contraction. But really, it is nothing more than the contraction of the pelvic floor muscles. The pelvic floor is the actual "floor", that everything in the pelvic area rests upon. For women, the pelvic floor encircles the urethra, vagina and rectum. For men, it supports the prostate and bladder, and encircles the urethra and rectum. When the contraction is performed correctly, these openings of the body should close. These contractions are of equal importance to men and women, and can help treat and improve a variety of issues including:

- Incontinence

- Sexual Function​

- Pelvic Pain

- Pregnancy related issues

- SI dysfunction

Treatment for these issues may require the assistance of a physical therapist that specializes in pelvic floor issues. The main reason for this, is the difficultly in knowing whether or not you are performing these exercises correctly. Why is this a big deal you say? Because, doing Kegels wrong may result in further complications, and actually make things worse!

Based on a study in the American Journal of Obstetricians and Gynecology, less than 1/2 of patients performed their kegels correctly. Worse yet, 25% of the women were performing the kegel contraction in a way that would actually promote incontinence.

The only way to truly visualize a pelvic floor contraction correctly, is with the use of an ultrasound machine to view the pelvic floor on the lower abdomen. Usually, there is no need to get undressed to do this, so it makes it much less stressful! If you are still hesitant of visiting a pelvic floor specialists, here are some good tips to help you perform a kegel correctly.

How to Perform a Kegel Correctly

Again, since their is no visible outward exertion, it can be difficult to know if you are performing your kegel correctly. The following cues should give you a good understanding of the desired motion

For Women

Contract: Pretend like you have inserted a tampon. Hold the imaginary tampon in place with your pelvic muscles, while visualizing your hand pulling the string down. The muscles will naturally pull up to stop the tampon from being pulled out.

Relax: Now relax your muscles and pretend like you are pulling the tampon out.

For Men

Contraction: Imagine you are stepping into a very cold lake and you don't want your penis and testicles to go in the cold water. That muscle lift that occurs to avoid the cold water, is a correct kegel contraction.

Relax: Cold water avoided, you are free to relax the tension.

If you are a Kegel novice, a good place to start is holding these contractions for 5 seconds and resting for 5 seconds. Repeating this exercise 3 times a day. Try not to contract abs, buttock or legs when performing a kegel. And avoid holding your breath!

If at any point you have any questions or concerns, feel free to schedule a consultation with our pelvic floor physical therapists. They have successfully treated many people and a variety of issues. We want to continue educating and dispelling the misconceptions surrounding kegels, we hope this blog post cleared some things up.

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