Kegels 101

Kegels are exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. These muscles stretch from your public bone (in front of your pelvis) to the coccyx (tail bone) at the back.

As I mentioned in my previous post, To pee or not to pee?, I have a regime that my Physiotherapist has given me to help strengthen my pelvic floor… and prevent me from PEEING myself during this pregnancy! 

This week, I have two kegel exercises to do twice a day:

1) Quick squeezes*: this action involves quick squeezing and letting go of the muscles. 10 sets of 5 quick squeezes with 10-20 seconds of rest between sets.

2) Hold squeezes*: this action involves squeezing up and holding for a specified period of time. 10 sets of squeezes held for 2 seconds with 4 seconds of rest between squeezes. 10-20 seconds of rest between sets.

*I made up these exercise names. I’m sure there is a proper terminology for them though!

The key is to ensure you are squeezing the CORRECT muscles. The first time I did the exercise, the Physiotherapist noted that I used my abdomen and glutes to help which is not the right way to do it.

Here are some guidelines to ensure you are using the right muscles:

  • Tighten and lift (pull upwards and inward) the muscles around your vagina as if to stop urine flow
  • Tight the muscles you would use to stop gas from coming out
  • Your abdomen and glutes should not be involved
  • No one should be able to tell you are even moving any muscles

She recommended I do them seated or laying versus while engaged in activity.

We also discussed posture and sleeping positions. She stressed the importance of not putting too much strain on my hips or pelvis. When sleeping on my side, my upper leg should be slightly behind the lower leg. As a stomach sleeper, I tend to roll forward and place my upper leg over the lower. I’ve tried her suggestion for a few nights and notice much less strain in my hips. I also explained that I tend to sit up to change positions in bed. She said that is actually putting extra stress on my pelvic floor. She suggested that I always ensure I am rolling over and getting up by supporting my body with my arms and legs. It’s almost like how I needed to support myself post-op after my laparoscopy surgery. I’m also making an effort to ensure my sitting posture to straight (not learning forward) and that I’m also not leaning more on one hip than the other.

Before bed, she also suggested I lay down with my feet together in the butterfly pose to stretch out my hips, inner thigh and pelvic muscles. I can also roll side to side to deepen the stretch.

The handout she gave me said it can take 4-6 months to see full effects but positive change can be noticed within a few weeks. Here’s hoping!

*Note: I am not a medical professional. If you think kegels might work for you, I highly recommend you discuss them with your doctor or physiotherapist. I’ve seen some mixed reviews online about how doing TOO MANY kegels will have a reverse affect. 

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