Do Kegels Even Work and How Many Should I Do?

June 7, 2023

If you’ve ever wondered if Kegel exercises really work or if they do anything at all, and wondered how many you should be doing, if any, then this article is for you.

A member of my core floor membership asked me last week how many kegel exercises she should be doing in addition to the other workouts we do in the membership. She wanted to know if they were even worth doing. This question is quite common among pelvic floor physical therapy patients and others who have heard about kegel exercises from various sources.

Kegel exercises have gained popularity and are often recommended by doctors, physical therapists, and pelvic floor influencers. However, many people who have been doing kegels for years without seeing any improvement in their pelvic floor symptoms wonder if they should continue doing them or if they’re doing enough.

To understand how many Kegel exercises you should do and whether they are necessary, it’s important to know what a Kegel exercise is. The pelvic floor muscles, which support the colon, uterus, bladder, rectum, and assist with bladder, bowel, and sexual function, work together to contract and lift the pelvic floor vertically and then relax it back to neutral. This coordinated contraction and relaxation of multiple muscle groups constitute a Kegel exercise.

As a pelvic floor specialist, I have shifted my approach away from solely focusing on Kegel exercises. While they used to be a significant part of my practice, I started questioning their effectiveness when patients reported no improvement despite years of doing Kegels. This led me to explore other aspects of pelvic floor health.

The pelvic floor muscles also work individually, with different groups of fibers running in different directions. Some fibers run front to back, while others run sideways or horizontally. Each group requires specific movements of the hips, pelvis, and spine to engage and function properly.

To strengthen a muscle, it needs to contract and relax. Just like working out any other muscle group in your body, repetitive contractions and relaxations lead to increased strength and functionality. The same principle applies to the pelvic floor muscles. By understanding the direction of the muscle fibers and the movements required to activate them, we can develop a more comprehensive approach to pelvic floor health instead of solely relying on Kegel exercises.

In My Core Floor, I emphasize a broader range of movements and exercises that engage the pelvic floor muscles in different ways. This approach includes exercises that target front-to-back, sideways, and rotational movements. By incorporating a variety of movements, we can ensure that all muscle groups within the pelvic floor are adequately stimulated.

It’s important to note that everyone’s needs are unique when it comes to pelvic floor health. There is no one-size-fits-all answer. Some individuals may benefit from a few Kegels incorporated into their routine, while others may require more focus on movements and exercises that target specific muscle groups and friends of the pelvic floor!

If you’ve been doing Kegel exercises without experiencing any improvement or are unsure about their effectiveness, I encourage you to explore a more comprehensive approach to pelvic floor health. Consult with a pelvic floor physical therapist who can guide you through exercises and movements tailored to your specific needs.

In conclusion, Kegel exercises are just one aspect of pelvic floor health. While they can be beneficial for some individuals, they may not be the sole solution for everyone. Understanding the complexity of the pelvic floor muscles and incorporating a diverse range of movements and exercises can lead to more effective and holistic pelvic floor care. Remember, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional to develop an individualized plan that addresses your unique needs.

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