Mastering the art of Kegel is of the utmost importance for training effectively and safely with Perifit.
"Effectively" because if you squeeze the wrong muscles, it is unlikely that you will train the pelvic floor muscles. And if you do not train your pelvic floor muscles, you are not likely to improve your continence, pelvic floor support, or sex life. Besides, a proper Kegel contraction will also help to suck the Perifit up, thus preventing it from sliding out.
"Safely" because if you are pushing down with the abs instead of lifting up with the pelvic floor muscles, you are exerting a harmful downward pressure. If this happens too often on an already fragile pelvis, this could lead to disorders or accelerate prolapse. In this article, we are learning how to do Kegel exercises properly.
Squeezing your pelvic floor muscles
The two most useful verbal clues are:
- "squeeze like you are trying to block wind"
- "squeeze like you are trying to stop the flow of urine" (but don't make a habit of doing it while urinating as it increases the risk of urinary tract infection)
... and you want to do it while keeping all other muscles relaxed, in particular your abs, thighs, and buttocks.
It may be hard at first, but don't despair. It is similar to playing the piano: at first, all fingers move together, but then you begin to give each of them their independence, and it becomes effortless to move one without affecting the others.
Picture yourself on a date with a romantic partner. Suddenly, wind is coming. You would like to block it while keeping a relaxed smile on your face.
So you squeeze only your pelvic floor muscles and nothing else. Done. Easy, Squeezy, no more Pee-zy! 😎
How do you know if you’re doing you Kegels properly? Another way to make sure that you are squeezing your pelvic floor muscles is to place a finger on your perineum (the space between the anus and the vulva). You should feel something move there when you squeeze.
Relaxing your pelvic floor muscles
But a proper Kegel is more than a contraction. The next step is to let go of any tension in your pelvic floor muscles to allow them to rest and lengthen.
Good results are achieved through a strong contraction, but the pelvic floor muscles get fatigued pretty quickly. Thus, relaxing during the rest period is crucial to give the next contraction your full effort and get the most out of your training time.
Besides, since functional muscles are both strong AND supple, it is imperative to bear in mind that pelvic floor training is all about strengthening without tightening. An excessively tightened pelvic floor is as damaging as one that is too weak. Both will lead to the loss of bladder function, with the former creating pelvic pain and discomfort and the latter resulting in lack of support issues.
Finally, researchers have found that proper relaxation helps you enjoy the session more and thus stick with your training program.
One thing you should never do, however, is push out or bear down on the pelvic floor to help it relax.
Adding breath into the equation
The pelvic floor acts like a second diaphragm.
When you inhale, your diaphragm and pelvic floor lower, and the abdominal wall goes out. This prevents intra-abdominal pressure from increasing as a consequence of your inhalation.
And when you exhale, the diaphragm and pelvic floor go up, and the abdominal wall goes in.
This is the usual way we function as human beings. So, during your Kegel workouts, you could follow the flow and try to contract your pelvic floor muscles when exhaling and relax them when inhaling.
Kegel exercises for beginners: a 5-step guide
Taking into account that the pelvic floor muscles are both lifting up (toward your head) and pulling forward (toward your pubis), here is a 5-step guide to achieving the perfect Kegel:
- Take a few breaths, fully relaxing your pelvis and letting go of all tensions
- On an exhalation, close from the back, like blocking wind
- Deeply relax on the following inhalation
- On the next exhalation, close from the back again and try to bring the sensation forward, like you are stopping the flow of urine
- Deeply relax on the following inhalation
What you have done with steps 4 and 5 is a perfect Kegel. Congrats!