Kegel exercises are an important part of maintaining pelvic health. When done properly, Kegels can be a good way for women to strengthen the pelvic floor. Although Kegels can benefit women including postpartum mothers, they are not always right for everyone.
Kegel exercises help tighten pelvic floor muscles, and while a loose pelvic floor is a challenge that some people face, the opposite can also be true. That’s because when pelvic floors don’t work properly, they can be either too loose or too tense.
The Difference Between Hypotonic & Hypertonic
A hypotonic pelvic floor is what happens when pelvic floor muscles are not properly developed, leading to a loose pelvic floor that causes urine leakage or urgent messages to find the bathroom (urge incontinence).
On the other hand, a hypertonic pelvic floor is what happens when pelvic floor muscles are too tense and overly toned. Brought on by stress or repetitive pressure from physical activity, an overly tight pelvic floor can lead to symptoms that include:
• Frequent and urgent messages to find the bathroom
• Digestive issues
• ConstipationIrritable bowel and other bladder and bowel issues
• Hip pain
• Shallow chest breathing (associated with anxiety)
• Lower back pain
In cases where the pelvic floor is too tight, Kegels are not appropriate. In fact, these pelvic floor exercises may even worsen the situation. Instead of tightening up your pelvic floor muscles, you will need to do some release work.
How to Relax Your Pelvic Floor Muscles
Overly toned muscles don’t provide much benefit to your body if they aren’t flexible and relaxed. To provide you with the best benefit, muscles need to be able stretch. Since pelvic floors can suffer from being too loose or too tight, it’s best to strike an ideal balance that can provide you with a good foundation for your health.
To relax your pelvic floor muscles, activities that emphasize stretching like yoga can be very effective. You can also try incorporating the following exercises into your daily routine to help promote your pelvic health.
• Elevated Legs: With your back supported by a blanket or a pad, try lying on the floor with your legs elevated up on a chair. Similar to “legs on a wall”, this is a more gentle approach to the more advanced technique.
• Stretching the Pelvis: Try using a yoga bolster or folded blanket to elevate your lower spine as you lie on the floor. Conversely, you can try using the bolster to raise your knees on the other side of your pelvis.
For best results, you should consult a medical practitioner to rule out any underlying conditions. In fact, the only way to know for sure what is best for you, is to be assessed by a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist.
At The WOMB Vaughan, our Pelvic Health Physiotherapy services are designed to provide care and support for people with pelvic health issues. Our Pelvic Health Physiotherapists can help you improve pelvic floor function through exercises, lifestyle modifications, education, and hands-on treatment. Experienced and discreet, our Physiotherapists are trained to help women prepare for childbirth, as well as to restore and recover the core and pelvic floor afterward.
As well, The WOMB Vaughan is staffed with specialized Personal Trainers who are Core Confidence Specialists. Our trainers work in conjunction with physiotherapists to provide customized pelvic health rehab training that can help improve your diastasis recti, pelvic organ prolapse, incontinence, and back pain.
There’s no need to face your pelvic health challenges alone. Let the caring experts at The WOMB Vaughan give you the support and professional expertise you need to determine your best course of action! Contact us today if you have any questions we can help you with, or drop by our facilities to have a face-to-face consultation!