Updated: Dec 3, 2021
Let's start with a brief recap on the pelvic floor. The pelvic floor is a commonly used phrase in pelvic physical therapy. It is a group of muscles that close off the pelvic outlet acting as a hammock-like support of the pelvis. The pelvic floor supports the abdominal organs and plays a key role in urinary, bowel, and sexual function and postural support.
The Kegel is a strengthening exercise for your pelvic floor muscles. It is important to tune into your pelvic floor in order to perform the exercise correctly. If you want to learn more about what the pelvic floor is and its function, you can read our blog on it here.
So how exactly do you tune into your pelvic floor? There are some tools that can help you such as a handheld mirror or rolled towel.
A handheld mirror help provide you with visual feedback so that you can see your muscles contract (pulling up and in) and release (dropping down)
Sitting on a rolled towel will provide you with tactile feedback so that you can feel the muscle lifting away from the towel as you contract and dropping down to the towel as you relax.
Now let's dive into how you perform pelvic floor muscle contractions, otherwise known as the Kegel:
Begin by lying on your back with your knees bent
Take a deep breath and relax your pelvic floor muscles
Exhale (blow out) as you pull UP and IN from your pelvic floor sling like you are trying to stop the passage of gas or stop urination. (Do not tighten your buttock or thigh muscles)
Make sure you breathe normally while holding the contraction. DO NOT HOLD YOUR BREATH!! - start by holding the contraction for 3-5 seconds if you have a hard time maintaining a proper breathing pattern. Slowly progress to 10-second holds as it becomes easier
Make sure you relax your pelvic floor muscle completely after each contraction
You may progress your training in sitting and standing once you gain proper awareness of performing the exercise.
If you are still having difficulty with this exercise, please contact your local pelvic health physical therapist. You may benefit from pelvic floor therapy!
Dr. Yvonne Huang