Kegel exercises are pelvic floor exercises that can help prevent or control urinary incontinence and pelvic floor dysfunction. However, Kegels are only one type of pelvic floor exercise and may not always be the answer. In some cases, Kegels can do more harm than good.
Kegel exercises help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, which support the uterus, bladder, small intestine and rectum.
Giving birth or surgeries can weaken these muscles and this can cause leaking of urine when sneezing, laughing or coughing (stress incontinence), leaking stool (faecal incontinence) or pelvic organ prolapse.
If done correctly, Kegels can help reverse this weakness and get rid of these symptoms.
These exercises consist of contracting and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles, with these contractions either short (1-2s) or long (10s or more).
To perform Kegel exercises we suggest the guidance of a Women’s Health Physiotherapist, that will help you to identify this group of muscles and how to work them.
However, in some cases the prescription and the execution of Kegels is not recommended:
- failure to contract the pelvic floor correctly, and contracting the gluteus, abdomen or hips muscles instead can risk tensing up these areas;
- instead of weakness, incontinence or dysfunction could be related to an overactivity of the pelvic floor muscles; therefore, these exercises could worsen the symptoms;
To know if Kegels are bad for you, you can look at these symptoms:
- lower back pain and pelvic region and hip pain;
- urgency or interruption of urinary stream, pain when urinating or inability to completely empty the bladder;
- leaking urine when performing high intensity activities;
Always seek the guidance of a Women's Health Physiotherapist who can tailor your exercises program to your needs and condition.