The key to balance in life?
Everything in moderation. The same goes for your pelvic floor muscles.
Maybe you just had your second baby? Your postpartum recovery this time feels a bit different. Last time, that leakage cleared up after a few short weeks….eight months later this time and it looks like these inconvenient leaks may be here to stay. So you talk to your doctor, maybe a friend, or do a little googling one night. Conclusively, it seems, “do your kegels.”
Fast forward another two months. You kegel till the cows come home each day. Yet, a sneeze takes you by surprise and another leak.
What’s happening here?
- Just plain too much of a good thing
Remember, your muscles down there are a whole lot smaller than the big groups of muscles elsewhere on your body. Let’s say you want stronger legs. You never would squat 200 times every couple hours…especially on day one.
If you do 1000 squats a day and then try to sprint up the stairs, how do you feel? Pretty damn tired. Your pelvic floor muscles may be overworked and fatigued.
How many kegels should I do per day?
Aim for enough kegels that you feel challenged on the last few repetitions. For most people, this is no more than a few minutes….with proper rest!
Unsure of what your “magic” kegel number is? Consider seeking out the help of a pelvic health physical therapist who can customize your program.
2. The same kegel every time
Did you know that your pelvic floor muscles have different muscle fibers for endurance and high impact activity?
Pelvic floor muscle training needs to target both types of muscle fibers.
Aim to incorporate endurance holds ~10 seconds and fast holds ~2 seconds into your training routine.
Some people need a bit more endurance training, while others need a bit more high impact training. This may be more complicated to figure out on your own. It may be time for help.
Build up your strength in a variety of positions. You’re a mom…. You don’t live your life laying on your back. It just doesn’t make sense to ONLY kegel on your back.
While lying down can be a fantastic choice when first starting kegels, it’s important to introduce challenging positions as you get stronger.
3. Poor technique
Kegels…just a squeeze over and over again, right?
Well not exactly. A couple things wrong here.
Yes, when you kegel, you squeeze, but you should also feel a lift of your pelvic floor muscles.
Second, your ability to relax fully after each kegel is just as important as your ability to tighten and lift. Make sure that you feel like you can release the muscle tension you created fully, and ensure that you give yourself adequate time to rest after each kegel when training.
Third, how do you breathe when you kegel?
Think “exhale on exertion.” It feels very counterintuitive for many, but a kegel should be started on an exhale and released on an inhale. When holding a kegel for several seconds, breathe normally the whole time you hold.
Kegel technique could take up an entire blog and so much more. It’s complicated, and these three points just skim the surface. Ask for help when in doubt.
4. No kegels for you…yet
Just like any other muscle in your body, a strong and healthy pelvic floor needs good strength and mobility.
Plain and simple, a tight pelvic floor muscle does not have very far to go when you tighten and lift. The muscle is already in a partially tightened state. Tight pelvic floor muscles have problems relaxing.
If this sounds like you, restoring good pelvic floor mobility is so important before you kegel.
In some cases, you may have tension without noticing any issues except leakage.
Painful sex, difficulty emptying your bladder, or painful bowel movements are just a few of the signs that your muscles may be too tight. If you’re suffering from any of these conditions, you really deserve and need the care of a professional.
Now let’s go back to the beginning. Were you just about ready to throw in the towels with kegels and accept leaking as an unfortunate part of mommy life? Good news! You now have quite a few tips to improve your kegel practice.
Information overload? This stuff is confusing. It’s okay. For more information, contact any of the pelvic health specialists at Hudson Valley PT. Too busy or not in the area? Sign up for the “Leak Free After Baby Bootcamp”. Link here: https://hudsonvalleypt.com/product/leak-free-after-baby-bootcamp/.