What are Kegels?
Kegals are exercises to help strengthen the pelvic floor. The Pelvic floor muscles are likened to a sling of muscles holding in the organs, found at the base of the pelvis, between your pubic bone, sit bones and tailbone area. It is important to know how to connect the muscles of the pelvic floor to help prevent incontinence. It is also advisable to learn to connect to these muscles before giving birth. The muscles change during pregnancy and after birth, and it is often more challenging to feel the same connection again postpartum. Therefore knowing the sensation before giving birth helps to understand what you want to achieve after childbirth.
How do I do them?
Traditional Kegal exercises ask you to squeeze up your pelvic floor muscles and hold the connection as you breathe in and out and count to a specific number.The way you squeeze up your pelvic floor muscles is to imagine you are going to the toilet to do a wee (number 1), and you have to stop halfway through. This feeling of holding and stopping the flow of urine is the feeling you will want to have when engaging the pelvic floor muscles. Do not literally stop your flow of urine when going to the toilet, this is just some imagery to help you learn how to connect the correct muscles. Some other imagery that can help is to imagine picking up tissue from that underneath area. The lifting up feeling is what you want to develop.
If you struggle to feel the connection at first, don’t worry this is normal. Keep practising, it does get easier.
Try to inhale relax your body and exhale draw up the pelvic floor. Start by doing this 10 times once per day. You can do this while driving the car sitting at the lights or waiting in line for your coffee. No one has to know you are strengthening your pelvic floor muscles.You can then try to imagine your pelvic floor is like an elevator with 10 levels. The first time you try it take it up to level 10, the strong full contraction. The next time take it to level 5, less intense contraction. Then another time level 2 etc. This is good practice in controlling how much you engage the muscles.
How often should I do them?
Everyone’s body is different and therefore requires different programming. You will usually know if you need to strengthen the pelvic floor if you struggle to hold going to the toilet, or if you leak when you sneeze, cough or jump. Sometimes you may also know if you are tight on the pelvic floor if you feel discomfort. Tune into and listen to your body and what it needs.
Remember when you are coming into your third trimester it is normal to not be able to hold as much urine as you normally would, this is due to having less space for the bladder as your baby is larger. Avoid confusing being weak in the pelvic floor for the lack of space for the bladder during the latter part of your pregnancy.
In your 3rd trimester
It is normal to not be able to hold as much urine as you normally would
If you feel you need to strengthen your pelvic floor, you can do the exercises once or twice per day, for a few minutes, especially if you are trying to regain strength after childbirth. If you are learning how to engage the pelvic floor muscles for the first time and you are pregnant, a couple of times per week for a few minutes is enough to feel the connection. You don’t want to strengthen and tighten the pelvic floor too much before giving birth, as you need this area to open and be flexible to allow the baby to pass through. To really be sure about your specific needs, see a pelvic floor specialist or physiotherapist who specialises in this area.
How long should I continue doing Kegels?
It is advisable to continue doing kegels exercises until you feel ok in your pelvic floor again. You will know if you are struggling to hold on and need to the toilet more than before childbirth. If you can it is advisable to get a recommendation from a pelvic floor specialist or pelvic floor physiotherapist if you are unsure. It is also recommended to do specific functional pelvic floor exercises, other than just static kegel exercises.
For more pelvic floor exercises, head on to www.epilatesonline.com
If you cannot make it to class I also offer an online option, www.corerestoreprogram.com
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Emma is an internationally certified Pilates, Yoga, Barre and Fitness Instructor, as well as Health Coach. She specialises in Women’s Health, specifically pre and post natal exercise. She has been teaching since 2003, and it's her passion to help clients love their body and make exercise part of their life, keeping them pain-free and feeling great. She loves supporting women through their Pre & Post Natal journey and has incredible results healing Diastasis Recti, assisting women to improve pelvic floor health and educating them around an easier and speedier birth.
Emma founded and operated a successful Pilates studio in Sydney Australia, which she sold in 2014 to move to Malaysia with her husband. Her studio was an international educational hub, regularly hosting Pilates Teacher Training courses and was the first to offer Barre in Australia. During this time Emma Also be sure to follow Emma on Instagram and Facebook, and say hi! She loves connecting. travelled throughout Australia and Asia as a Teacher Trainer, training new instructors in Barre. She has been featured in various magazines and has trained many celebrities. Her knowledge is sought after by many who have experienced the positive changes through her teachings. She is now happy to be helping more people experience the benefits of Pilates through her online studio www.epilatesonline.com. Emma believes everyone should have access to an education about their body, to assist in alleviating pain, improving posture & confidence, gaining better life balance and improving overall fitness and wellbeing.