Kegels get a lot of press, and rightly so. Dr. Kegel brought some much-needed awareness to the well-hidden muscles of the pelvic floor. However, just like any other muscle group in our body, the pelvic floor muscles do NOT always need to be strengthened. In some individuals, they need to lengthen, relax, or just get better at coordination. Here are a few fun things to try:
The Deep Squat: This is a great practice for your pelvic floor, but also for your whole body. As we age, many of us lose the ability to fully squat (butt to floor, heels on the ground). Getting down into a full squat lets the pelvic floor lengthen, relax, and even get a little stronger. Try holding it for a few minutes, and slowly add time on as you practice it more. Can't get your heels down? Roll up a towel or stick a small book under your heels to lift them a bit.
The Rock on Hands and Knees: This is a favorite of mine. In hands and knees position, we are significantly decreasing gravity's pull on the pelvic floor muscles. This give us a little more space to let it go. Rocking your hips back toward your heels simulates the position of squatting without putting as much stress on the joints of the lower body. Rock back, have a breath, come back to start. Rinse and repeat as needed.
The "Carry Along:" This is an imagery practice that I find useful for myself and others. It is simply the idea of bringing your pelvic floor along with you when you are doing any usual task. I like to think of doing a small lift of the pelvic floor (yes, a Kegel) as you do the task, and then gently setting it back down when I'm done. Going up a step? Lift that pelvic floor. When you get to the top, put it down. Lifting a back of groceries? Lift, then lower. Trying to wrangle a screaming child? Well.... That's a lesson for next time :)
Come on in to discuss if NON-Kegel exercises are right for you!