YES! We Pilates teachers love to talk about kegels. Like, all the time. Every class. At dinner parties ( well maybe that’s just me). It’s for good reason: engaging your kegels works your pelvic floor. A strong pelvic floor keeps you from leaking urine, holds your internal organs in place, supports your spine and pelvis and is needed for sexual function. Yes to strong pelvic floors please!
Not all teachers say the word “kegels”. Here are some common terms – rest assured it all means pretty much the same thing when we say to engage or lift…
- your power house
- your TA
- your zipper
- your PC muscles
- your elevator
It can get annoying if you don’t know whether you’re doing it correctly. The truth is, most of us only do kegels halfway (read: incorrectly). The “hold your pee mid flow” analogy we’ve been taught is crap. All you’re doing is lifting up, working in one direction. You need to practice “letting go” just as much as lifting. You need to do it full range!
My friend Kim Vopni of Pelvienne Wellness wrote a recent how-to piece about kegels in The Globe and Mail. “Most women focus solely on the contraction of the pelvic floor and forget about the need to relax. They also use the wrong muscles – typically the glutes and/or the inner thighs. They squeeze and clench while holding their breath in an attempt to do a Kegel when really they are holding their breath, clenching their glutes and bearing down…” (Check out the full article here).
All women, whether you’ve had kids or not, benefit from understanding how to engage the pelvic floor. TIP: picture the pelvic floor as a sling connecting your public bone and tail bone. When you lift, be sure to lift not just the “front”, but the whole region: perineum and rectum too. We’re talking about this with Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist Julia DiPaolo in our upcoming MUMMY TUMMY workshop on Sunday March 23, 2014. Register here!
By the way, men can and should do kegels too. The analogy that works well for men is…wait for it…”walk into a cold lake” ( yes I giggled too, but it truly works). Strengthening those muscles helps prostrate health, maintain continence and improves sexual function.
And finally, another reason to perfect your kegels is because properly contracting and releasing that area connects to your deepest layer of abdominal muscles…which means flat strong lower abs! Can I get a hell yeah!
So… we’ll see you in class.