Are you experiencing pain after kegel exercise? For those who don't know, a kegel is essentially a squeezing of the muscles between your legs that is intended to help strengthen your most sensitive muscles.
Many people assume that kegels are the solution to all pelvic floor problems. Yes, there are situations when kegels are a great exercise to improve the muscles "down there." However, this is not an exercise that works well for everyone. In fact, there are many cases where they do more harm than good.
This article will explain why kegels can be a potential problem for you and will give you an alternative to strengthen your pelvic floor without increasing tension.
The two top reasons people experience pain after kegel exercise:
1) You are doing the exercises incorrectly
A lot of people don't realize until it's too late that they are doing their kegels incorrectly. Many people increase the pressure in their pelvic floors and accidentally press their organs (bladder, rectum, etc.) downward, when these exercises are supposed to squeeze and lift up. In men, this means focusing on lifting up from the perineum and slightly squeezing the glutes. In the uterus-containing population, you are typically told to squeeze the walls of the vagina and lift upward.
The problem with pressing down instead of pulling up is that you are training the muscles to move in the opposite direction to what you are intending. The whole point of doing kegels is to strengthen and train the muscles below the belt so that they give better support to your bladder, rectum, and uterus (if you have one).
2) This is the wrong exercise for your condition, so kegel exercises cause pain
A lot of people assume that kegels will solve all of their problems. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Many people have pelvic floor symptoms that are the result of tight (hypertonic) pelvic floor muscles. If you are already dealing with uncomfortable symptoms resulting from tense muscles, then increasing that tension on purpose in order to build strength will likely make your symptoms worse.
Now, there are cases where those with tight pelvic floors can properly relax their muscles and then do a small amount of kegels, but this requires a great deal of fitness and is not usually recommended.
A great alternative to kegels for building strength in the pelvic floor: YOGA
Yoga for the pelvic floor is an amazing alternative to kegels. This exercise option enables you to naturally and gently stretch your most sensitive muscles while also building tone and strength. The key is to follow subtle cues to properly align the pelvis.
When positioning the body correctly, it's possible to align your body so that the organs are supported while you stretch and relax the pelvic floor. This helps reduce the pressure you might typically feel when exercising.
You can see a great example of exactly what this means in this video describing what to expect in a pelvic floor yoga class.
Unlike kegels, which focus only on squeezing the muscles, yoga works the entire body. Amazingly, something as simple as keeping your hips in the right alignment while moving the upper body can gently build strength in the pelvic floor while also stretching. It's a great way to improve the health of every muscle of the body.
If pain after kegel exercise is a problem for you or something you are trying to prevent, then I highly recommend switching to yoga. It certainly helped my pelvic floor dysfunction and I hope it can help yours as well.