To Kegel or not to Kegel?
You may have read on social media that you should be doing kegel exercises to help strengthen your pelvic floor. BUT, what is the pelvic floor? And more importantly, what are kegel exercises and should you be doing them? The answer is…it depends.
The pelvic floor is a sling of muscles located at the bottom of your pelvis that span from your pubic bone to your tailbone. These muscles have many different functions, including:
- Sphincter control – they control the opening and closing of the urethral and anal sphincters and thereby help start and stop the flow of urine, gas and poop.
- Support – they help support the pelvic organs (such as your bladder, rectum, +/- uterus).
- Sexual – they play a role in orgasms and can help increase pleasurable sensations.
- Sump pump – they help circulate lymphatic and venous fluid back towards the heart.
- Stability – the pelvic floor is one of the four main “core” muscles, which work together to help provide stability for our abdomen, low back, and pelvis.
The Kegel refers to a pelvic floor muscle contraction, which involves contracting (flexing) and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles. Often times, however, these are done incorrectly.
When someone does have a weak pelvic floor, they may run into issues such as stress incontinence, urge incontinence, frequency, prolapse, and/or low back pain. Strengthening can be an effective way to improve these symptoms. HOWEVER, if you have symptoms such as pain with intercourse, pain with urinating or emptying your bowels, incomplete emptying, urgency, and/or frequency, then strength focused pelvic floor exercises may NOT be appropriate to start. In both cases a person may be experiencing incontinence…however, the treatment approach would be different.
In the latter scenario (increased tension), treatment may first focus on reducing pain, tension, and tightness with a variety of exercises, education and manual therapy techniques. Once this is accomplished, it may then be suitable to start pelvic floor strengthening.
A pelvic floor physiotherapist can help you determine if you have a weak or tense pelvic floor, and they can create an INDIVIDUALIZED program to help you meet your goals.
During an initial assessment, your pelvic floor physiotherapist will go over your health history, symptoms, and goals. They will then complete an external exam (i.e. posture, low back, sacroiliac joint (SI joint), hips) and/or an internal vaginal and/or rectal exam. This will allow your physiotherapist to evaluate your pelvic floor strength, coordination, tone, areas of pain, and potential prolapse. Please note that an internal exam is only completed with the Client’s consent and it does NOT involve a speculum. While an internal exam can help provide lots of useful information about the pelvic floor, it is not necessary if you are uncomfortable with the procedure, or you are experiencing a lot of pain. You do not need a doctor’s referral to see a pelvic floor physiotherapist. If you are interested in optimizing your pelvic floor, you can book an initial pelvic floor physiotherapy appointment by calling the Lake Country Sun City location, or book now with our direct online booking.
Nikolina completed her Masters of Physical Therapy program at the University of British Columbia and has worked as a Physiotherapist in Prince George and the Kootenays. She has recently moved back to Lake Country to be closer to family and enjoy all that the Okanagan has to offer.
Women’s health and pelvic floor physiotherapy are the focus of Nikolina’s career. She treats the prenatal and postpartum populations, as well as individuals that have had surgery and those living with incontinence, urgency, frequency, prolapse, pelvic pain and/or sexual dysfunction. Additionally, she works with individuals who have a musculoskeletal or sports injury, and those undergoing post-surgical rehabilitation. Nikolina has taken many post-graduate courses to advance her training in these fields and is dedicated to developing her expertise. Her physio toolkit consists of manual therapy, education and individualized exercise programs. She is also accredited in Anatomical Acupuncture by Acupuncture Canada. With her warm and glowing personality, she creates a professional and compassionate environment where she can work closely with you to help you achieve your goals.
When she’s not in the clinic, you might find Nikolina painting a masterpiece, exploring the farmer’s market or biking on the trails. Is it snowing? She’ll be on her skis! Doesn’t matter where, as long she’s on the move!
Nikolina looks forward to meeting you and working with you!