Kegels can be a woman’s best friend, but research shows more may not be merrier. If you’ve wondered how many you should be doing, have had a baby, or struggle with leakage when you laugh/cough/sneeze, this post is for you! (Consequently, my husband said he might not read this post. Men folk, feel free to share with your lady friends.)
First, What Is a Kegel?
Just in case you’re unfamiliar or not sure if you’re doing them right, a kegel involves the muscles used to stop peeing midstream. To find them, try just that.
(While we’re here, it’s pronounced kay-gull.)
Now that you’ve identified the muscles, you can do these anywhere- in the car, while cooking dinner, etc. Work your way to holding each contraction for about 5 seconds. And pay attention- you don’t want to use your abs, butt, or thigh muscles; you want to isolate the pelvic floor. (source)
Can You Do Too Many?
Although popular belief is you should be doing kegels all day every day, that can actually make your pelvic floor too tight, which also contributes to incontinence. So yes, you can do too many!
Although many women have perfect balance in their pelvic floor musculature, others are either hypotonic (lengthened/weak floor muscles) or hypertonic (too tense/tight). Kegels are not the end-all-be-all for either of these.
If you’re hypertonic, kegels can increase the tightness in your already tight floor. If a muscle is always tight, it won’t be very good at tightening when you need it to (result: leaking during jumping jacks). Things like core breathing, deep squatting, and focusing on posture are more helpful. If you’re hypotonic, kegels can be beneficial, but core breathing, alignment, and kegel holds might be better. Some women even have a combination of both hypo- and hypertonic muscles in their pelvic floor.
How do you know for sure? You’d have to see a pelvic floor therapist, and they would assess the tightness, help break up any trigger points in your fascia, and give you specific exercises. If you’re not going to do that (it’s highly recommended that you do!), then doing 1,000 kegels per day is still not the answer.
What to Do Instead of (or in Addition to) Kegels
Sit up tall, feet flat on the floor. Place one hand on side of your rib cage, other just below your stomach. Breath in and think about filling up your lungs, feeling your diaphragm and rib cage expand, while relaxing your pelvic floor. On the exhale, feel these areas deflate slowly and add a small kegel at the end.
Doing these opposed to (or in addition to) kegels is important because it retrains these muscles to work together, as they were intended to.
Good posture is so much more than stand up tall, shoulders back, suck in! If you’re slouching, then you’re contributing to an imbalanced pelvic floor (and incontinence- eeek!).
Think of alignment this way “Head over Heart. Heart over Hips.” Picture a bucket around your hips filled with water. Not being in proper alignment can cause water to spill out the front or back, but you want the water to be still :)
You wouldn’t do bicep curls during your workout and then not stretch… so why would you do kegels all day and not squat? Deep squatting can help create the proper tone in your pelvic floor. Holding at the lowered position is even better.
Deep squatting with poor form isn’t going to help you. Make sure you’re doing them correctly, and don’t go “deep” until your body can handle it!
This next section will tell you how to put them all together!
So How Many Should I Do!?
Y’all, I used to be a teacher. It’s painful for me to even condense this info as much as I have! But here’s the part you’ve been waiting for if you just want the answers!
- Core Breaths: work on making them a lifestyle, but until then, 3 x10/day
- Kegels: start out with 1-2 sets of 10, holding each rep for 5 seconds. Work your way to 1 set of 10, holding each for 10 seconds. Once daily.
- Deep squat holds: add these to the end of a workout or house cleaning sesh, or shoot for 1 x 10 with 10 second holds, 3x/week.
- Alignment: all day e’reday. Set phone reminders. Wear pretty bracelets to help you remember. Do what it takes to make this LIFE! ;)
You know how you try a workout program from a fitness magazine and they always tell you to do 3 sets of 15 for each exercise? That’s a great starting point, but it’s not for everyone. Same with these. This is a great starting point, but I’ll say it again, there’s no way of knowing what’s best for you until you see a Pelvic Floor Therapist. It’s worth looking into at least, friend! Here in Portland I’ve been looking for a naturopath and many do “holistic pelvic care” that seems like it’s the same- look into whatever’s around you!
To help with the confusion and frustration of figuring out what to do, I created a workout program that’s designed to heal and balance your pelvic floor and flatten your abs after pregnancy.
Interested? Read below (or send to a friend who needs this!).
Read This if You’ve Had a Baby, Struggle with Incontinence, or Have Diastasis Recti
It doesn’t matter if you had your baby 5 minutes ago or 5 years ago, certain exercises are designed to help flatten your stomach, bring your abs back together, and help strengthen your pelvic floor, while others are unsafe and push you further from your goals.
Since you’re busy raising the next generation of world changers, this workout is made for you so you don’t have to think or worry about anything– all safe exercises and designed to promote fat loss, too. Woo hoo!
The Quick Run-Down:
- 12 weeks
- efficient but effective workouts
- safe exercises and progressions
- strength training: one of the most effective ways to lose weight, lean down, gain strength!
- pair of dumbbells and exercise band needed (buy here)
- accountability and support offered
- nutrition help available
- all online- videos with instructions, workouts, etc
- only $11.99/mo.
- (That’s about $36 to stick around for the whole program, which is insane).
About Your Trainer:
You guys, I’m scared that ANYONE can post workouts online. This is not OK. Especially for my postnatal hotties. I’m a nationally certified trainer and nutrition coach, and I’ve been trained in fat loss and safety for the postpartum body. I’m real, I like to eat peanut butter from the jar, and I want so badly for you to feel confident in your body (and ability to sneeze in public). Shoot me an email if you have any questions, or just jump in and take charge today!
So… drop this kegel-knowledge-bomb at your next ladies night, share this info about the Postpartum Workout Program, and sign up already! Let’s do this, mama!
Pssssst! If you don’t think you need a special program but want to get back in shape, try The Fit Tutor’s free workouts sent to your inbox each week! Sign up here.
Spread the news ;)