Everything you need to know about the pelvic floor and Kegel exercises

Everything you need to know about the pelvic floor and Kegel exercises

What is your pelvic floor?

Your pelvic floor is a powerful layer of muscles that sits like a hammock between your tailbone and pubic bone, supporting your pelvic organs. It plays an important role in core stability, bladder control, postnatal recovery and even sex.

How common are pelvic floor issues?

Pelvic floor issues are surprisingly common, affecting one in three women and up to 70% of expectant and new moms1. A weak pelvic floor can be the result of a range of factors, including weight gain, high-impact sport, ageing, pregnancy or childbirth. Often this presents as bladder control issues: from occasional leaks when you laugh, sneeze or jump to the unpredictable and urgent need to pee.

Other symptoms include lower-back pain and, in more advanced cases, organ prolapse. Fortunately, there is usually plenty that can be done to limit and even prevent symptoms altogether.

What are Kegel exercises?

Kegel exercises (also known as Kegels, Kegel training, pelvic floor exercises or pelvic floor muscle training) are targeted exercises that train and strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. Regular Kegel exercises can improve pelvic floor dysfunctions, including urinary and bowel incontinence2.

Pelvic floor training programs can help to improve core strength and stability, as well as posture. They also help to support bladder control during pregnancy, speed up postnatal recovery and reduce the risk of prolapse3.

When it comes to sex, Kegels build muscle strength, increase sensation and boost blood flow to the vagina, which in turn helps you to experience stronger orgasms4.

So whether you're looking to sort your symptoms, avoid issues down the line or for more control and stronger orgasms during sex, you’ll be glad you did your Kegels.

How do you do Kegel exercises?

Kegels are easy, when you know how. They involve contracting your pelvic floor muscles in a series of exercises:

Find the correct muscles

You might find it helpful to identify your pelvic floor muscles by attempting to stop your pee mid-flow. Once you’ve found them, you’ll be able to do the exercises in any position.

Lift and relax

Squeeze and lift your pelvic floor muscles. Hold this contraction for five seconds and then relax for five seconds. Repeat this sequence five times.

Focus

For optimum results, make sure you only contract your pelvic floor muscles. Keep the muscles in your abdomen, thighs and buttocks relaxed. Don’t hold your breath! Exhale while you’re contracting the muscles and inhale while you’re relaxing the muscles.

Consistency

If you’re hoping to treat symptoms of stress urinary incontinence, for example, it’s advised that you repeat your Kegels three times a day. Try to aim for three sets of five repetitions daily, gradually working up to 10 second contractions.

When it comes to your pelvic floor, as with most things, prevention is better than cure. Many women don’t realise the importance of Kegel exercises until after childbirth. However, performing your Kegels before and during pregnancy can help to prevent pelvic issues that may arise from pregnancy and childbirth.

Crucially, Kegels need to be performed regularly and correctly to be effective. But it's difficult to work out a part of your body that you can't see, so many women get bored and give up! 

Meet Elvie Trainer

We designed Elvie Trainer to be fun, challenging and motivating, so that you can get the most out of your Kegels. Elvie Trainer uses biofeedback technology, which is shown to be the most reliable way to encourage commitment and improve outcomes from pelvic floor muscle training5. Until recently, this technology existed almost exclusively in hospitals.

Elvie Trainer allows you to effectively perform your Kegels at home... or anywhere. The small, sleek device is inserted like a tampon and connects to an app on your smartphone, which visualizes your pelvic floor movements in real time and guides you through exercises designed by pelvic floor specialists to strengthen and tone your pelvic floor.

Unfortunately, 30% of women don't exercise correctly, pushing down rather than lifting up the pelvic floor muscles6. Unlike any other at-home biofeedback pelvic floor exercise tool, Elvie Trainer's patented force and motion sensor system detects if you are pushing down and alerts you via the app, helping you to get it right7.

Strengthen and tone your pelvic floor with the world's smallest and smartest Kegel trainer.

References

  1. Price, N. et al. (2010). ‘Pelvic floor exercise for urinary incontinence: A systematic literature review.’ Maturitas, 67(4), 309-15.
  2. Dumoulin, C. et al. (2015). ‘2014 consensus statement on improving pelvic floor muscle training adherence: International Continence Society 2011 State-of-the-Science Seminar.’ Neurourology and Urodynamics, 34(7), 600–605.
  3. Dumoulin, C. et al. (2015). ‘2014 consensus statement on improving pelvic floor muscle training adherence: International Continence Society 2011 State-of-the-Science Seminar.’ Neurourology and Urodynamics, 34(7), 600–605.
  4. Lowenstein, L. et al. (2010) ‘Can stronger pelvic muscle floor improve sexual function?’ International Urogynecology Journal, 21(5), 553-556.
  5. Glavind, K. et al. (1996). ‘Biofeedback and physiotherapy versus physiotherapy alone in the treatment of genuine stress urinary incontinence.’ International Urogynecology Journal, 7(6), 339–343.
  6. Bø, K. (2004). ‘Urinary incontinence, pelvic floor dysfunction, exercise and sport.’ Sports Medicine, 34(7), 451–464.
  7. McCarthy, S. (2017) ‘Does Elvie compare with real-time transperineal ultrasound measurement of urethral movement direction?’ Journal of Pelvic, Obstetric and Gynaecological Physiotherapy, 120, 69-70.