Pelvic pain and kegels: Are you “over kegeling”?

I recently treated 2 athletes who were both struggling with their pelvic floors.

One leaks urine with activity and the other gets pain into her anus with her discipline. They both have something in common. Their pelvic floors are too “tight”. 

The lady who leaks, struggles to generate enough power with her pelvic floor to close off her urethra, because it’s already being held in a shortened position.

Stress urinary incontinence (SUI) can also be caused by a “tight” pelvic floor.

The lady with pain, is sore because she tends to always hold her pelvic floor up tightly. And this overactive/shortened tissue gives her pain.

Both of these ladies have been doing “kegels” (pelvic floor strengthening exercises) like crazy, to try and improve their symptoms. These have likely made their problems worse.

Kegels are not the only way to correct problems in the pelvic floor.

We can no longer encourage women to strengthen their pelvic floors in isolation. We need to be incorporating the diaphragm and deeper core muscles to see how the core system is firing. The pelvic floor is a menace for “over gripping”, and we need to ensure that we are moving the muscles through their FULL available range and not just squeezing squeezing squeezing.

I honestly feel that kegels are the most over prescribed blanket exercise in the world. Especially if they are being done without letting the muscle relax fully in between contractions.

If your vagina hurts with a tampon or sex or even just from your clothes touching, DO NOT KEGEL. If your pelvis hurts, chances are your pelvic floor muscles are too tight and strengthening them by doing pelvic floor exercises or “kegels” is very likely going to make your pain WORSE. 

Please see a Pelvic Health Physio if you are struggling with anything “down there”. Until then, no more tightening your pelvic floor muscles, because loads of kegels aren’t always the answer.