TGIF! I just got back from a long weekend course in Iowa where I took several tests to become a Pelvic Floor Specialist. I have two more levels to go in order to sit for the certification exam. But it was a great class and I was able to learn so much in regards to treating women’s health patients. I’m excited to implement some of the techniques I learned into my patient care. So after being at this course for 3 days, I thought what better topic for this week’s post other than kegels!
I’m guessing you have probably heard about kegels a time or two in your life or perhaps you were told by your physician or other healthcare provider to “just do some kegels” after you had a baby. While it is true that kegels help to strengthen the pelvic floor, it is not quite that simple however. First, research has shown that over 60% of women are doing kegels incorrectly. Second, the pelvic floor muscles are composed of both fast twitch and slow twitch fibers; essentially quick contraction fibers or endurance fibers. Both types of fibers should be strong in order to prevent incontinence or prolapse. And third, in order to strengthen the pelvic floor, it must be progressively overloaded similar to how you would increase weight at the gym while doing bicep curls.
Most people don’t realize that the pelvic floor consists of muscles similar to everywhere else in our body. In order to strengthen those muscles, there has to be an appropriate exercise program for them. If you could only do 5 bicep curls, you wouldn’t try to do 20 because there’s no way you could have good form for all 20 repetitions. It’s also important to note that resolving incontinence is often times not quite as simple as just strengthening the pelvic floor. It is often times mixed with some urge incontinence and can also be due to hyper active pelvic floor muscles. In that case, kegels can make it much worse since the muscles are already working too much. The best way to know what is best for you is to have it assessed by a Pelvic Floor Specialist Physical Therapist. There are a lot of people out there that say they treat incontinence but have not taken additional classes for it (which is needed to treat it effectively). If you have any questions about kegels or incontinence, please email me at FitandTonedWI@gmail.com. Lastly, incontinence is not normal in any scenario (pregnancy, old age, etc) so if you suffer from this, book an appointment with me in the Greater Milwaukee area and we can get it resolved.