Why Kegels Don’t Work and How to Manage It

Why Kegels Don’t Work and How to Manage It

October 5, 2020

If you experience Urinary Incontinence, your first move would always be a consultation with your physician, and now, more are opting for Women’s health physical therapy. One of the things you will be taught is kegel exercises. The question is, what if it doesn’t work for you?

There are so many factors affecting it. Yes, Kegel exercises are a must when it comes to pelvic health. But some would report that Kegels don’t exactly work for them. Lifestyle, physical activity, and even diet may contribute to its ineffectiveness for some women.

But we’re reminding you that this is a special case that occurs to a handful of women out there.

One of the things that your physician and physical therapist will assess about it is if you’re doing it correctly. Sometimes, we think we are doing it properly but it turns out is not that easy to access these deep muscles that support our pelvic organs when upright.

Here are the reasons why kegels don’t work and how to avoid them:

1. Instead of lifting, you bear down

Pushing downwards would only strain your muscles and weakens it. A proper Kegel should feel as if you’re lifting your muscles upwards in the direction towards your belly button. Think of it as stopping your pee mid-flow. Give this a try, sit down and try to lift your vagina and anus away from the surface you’re sitting on without moving your pelvis, this is the right kind of movement.

2. You’re contracting but not relaxing

This is one of the most common mistakes we make in Kegel exercises that your physical therapist notices. Kegel includes the total relaxation of the muscles as well as the contraction. Total relaxation allows the blood to flow back into your muscles, not doing it properly would only lead to muscle spasms and fatigue. Your muscles become tight and may cause pelvic pain and constipation, something we don’t want to happen.

Breathing is very important to fully relax your muscles, to be able to have the next contraction even stronger. Breathe out as you contract while counting slowly to 5, then breathe in to a count of 5 while you relax.Imagine your pelvic floor as being your lungs, you want to expand when you inhale and constrict as you exhale. A most important reminder here is, don’t forget to stop when your muscles are tired, don’t overdo it.

3. Your posture might not be right

Your Physical Therapist will be so adamant on this one. Since this is the basic reminder in all exercises. Slouching always has a negative effect on your pelvic floor, not to mention causes back pain. Exercising with poor posture will strain your pelvic floor rather than exercise it.

How do you know if you’re doing it right?

  • Sitting up straight while you do Kegels – this makes them more effective. When your torso is properly aligned, everything is much more supported and your pelvic floor can contract more efficiently.
  • Make sure that your buttock is at the back of the chair and your spine is lengthened. You can use a posture cushion in a sturdy chair or a yoga ball if it’s available.
  • Sit up straight with your feet on the floor hip-width apart. Then, balance evenly on your pelvis, look forward.
    Concentrate on lengthening your spine and contract

But what if it still doesn’t work?

This is possible if your pelvic muscles are really weak due to trauma and you might not be able to feel any contraction. One cause would be nerve damage as a result of childbirth or other reasons. In these cases, as we have said, your physician – an OB GYNE at that, must assess you thoroughly.

There are other exercises available such as Clamshell, Side Step, and Child’s Pose- which will all be taught by your Physical Therapist during your session, to help strengthen the pelvic region. So don’t worry, there’s always a solution to this kind of problem. You just have to have courage and voice out your problem to your therapist and physician.

If you have more questions about why kegels don’t work, Tribeca Physical Therapy is officially reopened for in-person physical therapy sessions and continues to offer Telehealth PT or Virtual PT. Call us at 2124068080 or message us and book your first session free.

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