5 common mistakes when doing your kegels
We totally get it, kegels can be a difficult exercise to get right. It’s no easy feat finding your pelvic floor muscles, let alone isolating them and exercising them correctly. And to top it off, it’s easy to make mistakes which can stunt your progress and may even cause damage to your pelvic floor.
Just like with other exercises, your form is crucial to carrying out the exercise safely and correctly. So how do you know if you’re doing your kegels correctly and what mistakes should you look out for? We’ve listed 5 of the most common mistakes made when women are doing their kegels, how to spot them, and how to stop them.
- Using the wrong muscles
When you’re first giving kegels a go, it can be pretty difficult trying to find your pelvic floor and learning how to exercise it. Many women, when first starting out, tend to contract their abdominals or glutes rather than their pelvic floor and therefore end up seeing no results.
One method of locating your pelvic floor is stopping the flow of pee when you’re on the toilet. The muscles that are used to do this are your pelvic floor muscles and now you know where they are and how to contract them. This is an effective method for locating your pelvic floor muscles, but you shouldn’t use it as a way of performing kegels. Stopping mid urination can train your body to believe that is what’s meant to happen all the time, and in-turn can lead to developing urinary incontinence or other urinary dysfunction.
Another method to ensure you’re exercising the correct muscles is to use a pelvic floor trainer with biofeedback. Elvie Trainer allows you to monitor your pelvic floor movements in real-time and helps to identify and improve your technique. This means you can see whether you’re carrying out your kegels correctly without having to guess, and you’ll be able to track your progress as your pelvic floor strengthens.
2. Tucking in your pelvis
Form is just as important for kegels as it is for other exercises. This means that exercising your pelvic floor without paying attention to how your body is positioned, is going to be less effective.
To carry out a kegel correctly, you’ll want to firstly make sure your bladder is empty and then lie down. Take a deep breath to relax and as you breathe out squeeze your pelvic floor inwards and upwards. Hold the contraction for 3 to 5 seconds, and then release and rest for 5 seconds. While doing this, focus on how your body is positioned and try to make sure that you’re not tucking in your pelvis.
By tucking in your pelvis it’ll feel like it’s making your kegels easier, however you’ll be engaging the incorrect muscles and will end up stunting your progress. You’ll want to create a lifting motion as well as a squeezing motion, one of the more common ways women achieve this is by visualising that you’re lifting a blueberry with your vagina.
3. Holding your breath
Just like other exercises, holding your breath while can lead to you not getting as much out of the exercise. That’s usually due to negatively affecting posture and reducing the delivery of oxygen to the muscles, although for kegels there’s an extra factor.
By holding your breath while doing kegels, you’ll create an increase in intra-abdominal pressure. This pressure will make you feel tight and like your kegels are really working, however, in reality it’s putting pressure onto your pelvic floor and this pressure can lead to pelvic dysfunction.
The easiest way of getting around this one, is by simply being aware that it’s an issue! Most of us will hold our breath without realising, so focus on maintaining a breathing pattern. This will not only stop you from holding your breath, but will also help with your posture and the overall effectiveness of the kegels.
4. Overworking yourself
It can be easy to overwork yourself when you're doing kegels. The pelvic floor is a group of small muscles that make small, subtle movements and are not intended to be put under heavy strain.
It’s recommended you hold a contraction for between 3 and 5 seconds before releasing, rest for 3 to 5 seconds and then repeat. This process should be done 10 times, and can be done up to 3 times a day.
Your pelvic floor needs to rest in order to repair and become stronger. Holding contractions for too long or doing more than 3 sets a day isn’t going to give your pelvic floor the time it needs to repair itself and may end up causing damage.
5. Being too patient for results
If you’re carrying out your kegels correctly, you should see some results after a week or so. If you’re not seeing any results it could be due to one of two things:
- You’re not executing your kegels correctly
- Kegels may not actually be able to bring you the results you want
It may be worth speaking to a doctor at this point as they’ll be able to advise you on whether kegels will benefit you, or if perhaps a different exercise would suit your goals better. For example, If you’re experiencing pelvic pain and are using kegels as a way of reducing that pain, you’re unfortunately not going to see any results. Down-training exercises and breathing patterns used to relax the muscles will be more effective.
Hopefully this has given you the knowledge to nail your kegels and if you’re interested in reading more, check out our guide to everything kegel related or find out 12 myths about the pelvic floor with Dr. Siegel.