5 Kegel Mistakes to Avoid

Kegel mistakes can affect the success of your pelvic floor strengthening.

These common Kegel mistakes are easily corrected.

Video Duration: 2 minutes

Suitability: Anyone seeking to correct their Kegel training (with a sense of humour).

Read on below this video for more Kegel mistakes and how to correct them.

Common Kegel Mistakes and Solutions

Unfortunately some of the common Kegel mistakes can slow training progress and even make some pelvic floor problems worse 1.

Women often need their Kegel technique corrected, especially after receiving only written or verbal instructions 2.

Kegel Mistakes Include:

1. Squeezing Your Buttocks and Thighs

If your pelvic floor muscles are weak or if you’re new to Kegel exercises, you may find that it’s difficult to localize effort to your pelvic floor muscles. It’s commonplace for women to contract their thighs, buttocks and even their raise their eyebrows during pelvic exercises. As a result you can mistake your thigh and buttock contractions for your Kegel exercises and therefore get no training benefit for your pelvic floor.

Solution:

Aim to keep your thighs and buttocks relaxed during your Kegels. When starting out, use less effort during your exercises with a gentle pelvic floor contraction (rather than too strong). Another helpful strategy is to sit on a rolled towel or a Yoga ball to help you feel your pelvic floor openings closing during your exercises.

2. Incorrect Exercises Bridge exercise

It’s a mistaken belief that exercises other than Kegels will train the pelvic floor muscles 3. Unfortunately there’s currently no good evidence supporting Pilates or Yoga for pelvic floor training.

Doing exercises such as the bridge (shown right) in the belief that it will strengthen your pelvic floor is a Kegel mistake. The bridge is a buttock strengthening exercise that’s often confused with pelvic floor exercise. The pelvic floor muscles are not directly trained doing bridging exercises.

Solution:

Pelvic floor training requires specific Kegel exercises, there’s no easy way to get around this fact.

3. Holding Your Breath

Women often hold their breath during Kegel exercises, particularly if the pelvic floor muscles are weak. The pelvic floor muscles work in a coordinated manner with the diaphragm and breath holding interrupts the normal interplay of the core muscles 4. Holding your breath during Kegels will increase downward pressure on your pelvic floor making your exercises more difficult.

Solution:

Try to breathe normally during your Kegel exercises. Some women find it easier to contract their pelvic floor muscles with the breath out. If you choose to use this Kegel breathing technique, resume your regular normal breathing immediately during the exercise. Your pelvic floor needs to learn to work with the normal movement of your diaphragm that occurs during regular breathing.

4. Incorrect Lifting Action

Correct Kegel exercise technique involves squeezing and lifting the pelvic floor muscles. A common Kegel mistake is to bear down using a straining action when attempting pelvic floor training 1 which can progressively strain and weaken pelvic floor. Another common mistake during pelvic floor exercise is forgetting to lift the pelvic floor inwards at the same time as squeezing the pelvic openings.

Solution:

Use the correct Kegel exercise technique from the outset of training. Focus on squeezing around the pelvic openings and lifting them inwards. You may find that trying different positions during your exercises (e.g. lying, kneeling, sitting or standing) helps you use the correct lifting action.

5. Over-Training

Doing too many daily Kegels can be a problem owing to the mistaken belief that doing more exercise is better. Too many Kegels can fatigue the pelvic floor muscles, increasing pelvic floor symptoms and potentially worsening pelvic floor problems.

Train your pelvic floor like muscle just like training in the gym with the recommended number of strength training exercises. There’s no benefit to be gained from doing hundreds of daily pelvic floor exercises.

Solution:

Aim to complete the recommended dose of daily Kegel exercises. Try to contract your pelvic floor muscles for up to 8-10 seconds, 8-12 times in a row for 1 set of exercises. Perform 3 sets of daily pelvic floor exercises.

6. Poor Posture

Correct Posture

Poor posture increases the load on the pelvic floor making Kegel exercises more difficult and less effective. The pelvic floor muscles work most effectively when the spine is in the correct posture 5.

Solution:

Correct your posture for Kegels by sitting away from the back of the chair or standing with the lower back curve midway between flexed and extended known as neutral spine position (shown right).

7. Lack of Pelvic Floor Relaxation

Increased pelvic floor tension or spasm can develop when the pelvic floor muscles aren’t relaxed and allowed to sufficiently rest. Lack of rest can cause the pelvic floor muscles to fatigue or spasm contributing to pelvic floor problems.

Solutions:

  • Learn to relax your pelvic floor muscles
  • Keep your pelvic floor muscles relaxed during the day when they’re not required (e.g. cough, sneeze)
  • Avoid over bracing your pelvic floor muscles by allowing them to relax back to resting position between Kegel exercises
  • Give your pelvic floor sufficient time to recover in between sets of Kegels
  • Avoid the Kegel mistake of over-training by doing too many exercises in one day.

More Information:

» Kegel Exercises for Beginners Workout

» How Many Kegels Should You do a Day? (Physiotherapy Video Guide)

» How to do Kegel Exercises that Strengthen your Pelvic FloorPelvic Floor Exercises Daily Workout CD

Pelvic Floor Exercises Daily Workout Audio CD (Download or Hardcopy)

Learn how to strengthen your pelvic floor and train along with Michelle using her daily pelvic floor training workout.

with Michelle Kenway Physical Therapist

Track 1 – Introduction to Successful Strengthening

Track 2 – Finding your Pelvic Floor

Track 3 – Feeling your Pelvic Floor Muscles

Track 4 – Using the Correct Pelvic Floor Exercise Technique

Track 5 – Beginners Pelvic Floor Exercises Workout

Track 6 – Intermediate Pelvic Floor Exercises Workout

Track 7 – Progressing and Maintaining your Strength

 

Learn More

References

1. Thompson J. and O’Sullivan P. (2003) Levator plate movement during voluntary pelvic floor muscle contraction in subjects with incontinence and prolapse: a cross-sectional study and review. International Urogynecology Journal, June Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 84–88. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/10669325_Levator_plate_movement_during_voluntary_pelvic_floor_muscle_contraction_in_subjects_with_incontinence_and_prolapse_A_cross-sectional_study_and_review

2.  Bump R et al. (1991) Assessment of Kegel pelvic muscle exercise performance after brief verbal instruction. American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Volume 165, Issue 2, pp 322 – 329. Retrieved from https://www.ajog.org/article/0002-9378(91)90085-6/pdf

3. Bo K and Herbert R. (2013) There is not yet strong evidence that exercise regimens other than pelvic floor muscle training can reduce stress urinary incontinence in women: a systematic review. Journal of Physiotherapy, Volume 59, Issue 3, September 2013, pp 159-168. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1836955313701802

4. Hodges P, Sapsford R. et. al. (2007) Postural and respiratory functions of the pelvic floor muscles Neurourol Urodyn. 26(3), pp 362-71. Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/nau.20232

5. Sapsford R. et al (2006) Sitting posture affects pelvic floor muscle activity in parous women: An observational study. Australian Journal of Physiotherapy. Volume 52, Issue 3, 2006, pp 219-222. Retrieved from https://reader.elsevier.com/reader/sd/pii/S0004951406700319?token=62838DE174A54FFD83AAD73BF589A9E073ABA9AF9E73D99ACC5946C192110424A9C157877FD674C27225324EED7A621F

Pelvic Exercises Physiotherapy

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