PT CORNER - by Lyne Ezenwa P.T.
What is a Kegel?
a) A pelvic floor contraction
b) An exercise
c) The name of a physician
If you answer all of the above, you are right. A Kegel is a pelvic floor contraction which was named after the inventor, Dr. Arnold Kegel.
The pelvic floor muscles connect from the front (the pubic bone), to the back (your tail bone). It is like a Hammock, supporting the weight of the pelvic organs. It plays an important role in urination and bowel movements. It aids in the prevention of urinary and fecal leakage. Additionally, it has a role during sexual intercourse and also helps support the baby during pregnancy.
A Healthy pelvic floor muscle should be strong, and yet able to relax with ease. A daily regimen of Kegel is recommended. But first, it is important to identify and isolate our muscles during a contraction. Past research has shown that 80% of women were not able to perform Kegel properly. When you tighten your pelvic floor it should raise upward, like an elevator (you should feel a raise between the vagina and the rectum) and once you relax, the elevator should return back down, to a resting position. Your abdominal and buttock muscles should stay relaxed when you are contracting your pelvic floor.
In my experience, pelvic pain is often associated with the inability to relax the pelvic floor muscles. When the muscles tighten for long periods of time, chronic spasm and trigger points sets in, eliciting more pain. Kegel exercises may help break the pain cycle. Your pelvic floor contraction can be evaluated by a trained physical therapist, which will assess the strength (power), the endurance (how long you can hold) and the ability for your pelvic floor muscles to relax. Biofeedback is also a very helpful tool for pelvic floor reeducation. Your contraction is recorded onto a computer screen which gives you visual and sensory feedback of the activity of your muscles.
Good luck with your Kegels!
Give me a squeeze and please do not forget to relax…
Lyne Ezenwa P.T.
The Pelvic Health and Physical Therapy Center
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