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Why Kegels Don’t Work

Many patients (and their physicians) think that Pelvic PT is ‘just doing Kegels.’  In fact, nothing should be further from the truth.  However, many PTs are still using Kegels and/or biofeedback for just about everything.

For those of you who don’t know, a “Kegel” is a voluntary squeeze of the pelvic floor, like you’re trying to hold back urine.

Why Kegels Don’t Work

First of all, in the majority of cases – especially in cases of pelvic pain, prolapse, constipation and urinary urgency/frequency/retention – the pelvic floor muscles are already TOO TIGHT.  

Then you’re going to deliberately squeeze them over and over again?  That’s crazy!

Imagine if you were having a lot of pain in your arm because your bicep was too tight.  And then you went to someone who told you all you needed to do was 100 bicep curls each day to feel better. 

The truth is, most of the time we’re working to relax those muscles.  If you’re having any type of pelvic pain, in particular, you should NEVER be doing Kegels as part of your home program.

But What if I Have Leakage?

Many people assume leakage happens because the pelvic floor is ‘weak.’  But often it’s actually because parts of the pelvic floor are already overly tight, or not coordinating well together with other muscles. In this situation, Kegels are the exact opposite of what we want!

Plus, there’s often something else going on – low back pain, prolapse, urinary urgency/frequency, painful intercourse – all of these are signs of a too-tight pelvic floor.

Even if there is some weakness, we have to look at the system as a whole.  Find the underlying ‘why’ of the problem and address it for lasting relief.

On a final note, did you know that most people can’t do a Kegel correctly when given just written or verbal instructions? Its true, most people need more than just instructions on a piece of paper to correctly contract their pelvic floor muscles.

If you have ever being told to ‘just Kegel’ or have had a doctor tell you to just practice squeezing, you need to find someone who is looking at the whole picture!

Have you tried Kegels for your pelvic problems but have not been satisfied with the outcome?? Reach out to one of our experienced pelvic physical therapists to talk about what your symptoms are and how we may help. Click here to set up a time to talk.

AUTHOR

Brooke Kalisiak

Legacy Physical Therapy

"We help women who are tired of leaking, dealing with pelvic pain, and wanting to get their body back in shape after baby (even if it’s been 30 years) all without relying on medications or surgery."
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