Updated: Dec 3, 2021
Just like anything else, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. This idea holds true for those of you who are doing Kegel exercises.
Kegels are great for strengthening the pelvic floor muscles. These muscles are the support system for a bunch of organs like the bladder, intestines, and, in women, the uterus. And, as I've mentioned in some of the other pelvic floor blogs, Kegels are easily the most popular exercise in the pelvic floor world.
If your pelvic floor symptoms are not improving or not improving as quickly as you'd like, a common misconception is to just do more of your Kegels. But this solution might be detrimental. Many people actually experience pelvic pain, lower abdominal pain or even low back pain from overdoing Kegel exercises.
Here are some of the problems associated with overdoing Kegels:
Every muscle at some point needs rest and will get fatigued. The same holds true for pelvic floor muscles. Not giving them the proper rest time fatigues the muscles and causes muscle soreness.
Not fully relaxing after each contraction can have a similar result to not giving rest time. You may think you are giving the right amount of rest between contractions, but if you aren't fully relaxing the muscles during rest, they don't have a second to recover.
Many people unconsciously over-brace their pelvic floor muscles while doing activities like intense core training and weight training, or in moments of stress or anxiety. This plays into the above point that you are not giving your pelvic floor muscles ample time to relax. They are being overworked and fatigued by daily activities and then forced to work more doing Kegel exercises.
If you think you might be experiencing pelvic pain from overdoing Kegels, here are some tips:
This may seem obvious but STOP doing Kegels immediately.
Try diaphragmatic breathing exercises: Lay on your back with the back of your knees supported by pillows. Breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. As you should breathe in, you should note your belly expands like a balloon. And as you breathe out, it deflates. Try a few minutes of deep belly breaths.
Heating pad: As you are lying down and trying to relax, apply a warm heating pad or hot water bottle to the pelvic floor or lower abdominal area. The warmth can help the muscles relax.
Happy baby stretch: Lay on your back. Bring your knees up and in toward your chest and grab onto your ankles/feet. Then, open up your knees and start to pull your ankles outward. While holding the stretch, perform some deep breathing to help relax your pelvic floor muscles.
Be sure to talk to a pelvic health specialist to make sure you are doing exercises and treatments that are appropriate for you and your body.
Dr. Yvonne Huang