Kegel exercises aren't your average workout, often recommended for pelvic floor health. There's more to the story — especially when it comes to addressing pelvic pain and conditions like vulvodynia.
Our team of providers at International Spine, Pain & Performance Center in Washington, D.C., and Arlington, Virginia, reveal the truth about Kegels.
What are Kegels?
Kegel exercises involve contracting and relaxing your pelvic floor muscles to strengthen and improve their function. These exercises are commonly recommended to address issues such as urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, and sexual dysfunction.
Benefits of Kegel exercises
There are many benefits of Kegels. They can:
- Strengthen your pelvic floor muscles
- Reduce embarrassing urine leaks
- Contribute to improved sexual function, including increased sensitivity
- It can be performed anywhere
- Boost your self-esteem (as the frequency of leaks decreases)
Despite the benefits, several things that need to be clarified about Kegels exist, including how to do them. Some women may struggle with knowing exactly which muscles to contract or release. The good news is that our team tackles that in the next section.
How to perform Kegels
To perform Kegel exercises, identify your pelvic floor muscles by contracting as if you're stopping the flow of urine midstream. That's the secret to knowing which muscles you need to contract!
Once you’ve located these muscles, tighten these muscles for a count of five, then relax for five. Aim for three sets of 10 repetitions daily to strengthen your pelvic floor, or as directed by your International Spine, Pain & Performance Center provider.
Tip: The pelvic floor requires both contraction and relaxation. Focusing solely on contraction without adequate relaxation may contribute to muscle tightness and discomfort, so don’t skimp the relaxing step!
Kegels and pelvic pain
Kegels may be invaluable for addressing incontinence, but they must be suitable for everyone and fix every pelvic issue. Keep in mind that Kegels should never hurt. If your muscles are tight, or if Kegels trigger pain, stop.
For individuals experiencing chronic pelvic pain, especially conditions like vulvodynia, the role of Kegels can be complex. In some cases, Kegels may exacerbate your pelvic pain by causing increased muscle tension.
Managing pelvic pain 一 especially if you have a complex condition like vulvodynia 一 requires an individualized and comprehensive approach. Some women with pelvic pain may benefit from specific pelvic floor physical therapy that goes beyond traditional Kegel exercises. As interventional pain management specialists and physical therapists, that’s where our team shines. If you have pelvic pain and aren’t sure if Kegels are right for you, talk to us.
From Kegels to other types of pelvic floor physical therapy to medications for pelvic pain, we’ve got what you need under one roof.
Call the location of your choice or use our online booking tool to schedule your appointment.