Are you in a Kegel all day long?

Many women I assess with pelvic floor issues have a pelvic floor that stays contracted/ tight / engaged throughout their day. It is so “normal” feeling that they are not even aware that they are pulling it up and holding tight until we begin to do our pelvic floor work and they become aware of the tension there.

There are many reasons why we might hold our pelvic floor chronically tight:

  • Because we feel like otherwise stuff will fall out (organs, pee, a baby…. you know, stuff)
  • Certain sports…. I tend to notice that athletes in certain sports tend to have the tendency to clench. Take Roller Derby for example- I can pretty much guarantee you that if I was about to be body slammed by someone named Soul Crusher, I would probably clench my pelvic floor.
  • Chronic stress. We hold it somewhere and many people hold it in the pelvic floor.
  • Acute stress. Someone you do not feel comfortable with walks into the room- what does your body do? Tense up.
  • Trauma in our past. Considering that every 98 seconds (yes, seconds) someone is sexually assaulted in the United States(1). This one may be a big one for many people. If this is one of your reasons- please seek out professional support as you begin the release work.

What are some issues caused by tension in the pelvic floor?

Pain. A too tight pelvic floor can cause a lot of different types of dysfunction and pain. The one I see most regularly in my private practice is pain during penetration.

Not very yielding for childbirth. The goal is not a super.tight.pelvic floor but rather a strong, functional and YIELDING pelvic floor. Imagine your bicep muscle… if it was too tight you wouldn’t be able to extend your arm all the way. Tighter isn’t better, it’s just tighter. Not great for childbirth. But not great for the rest of life either so if you’re done having kids or not planning kids, you still don’t want a too tight pelvic floor.

The deep core muscles not working as well. The pelvic floor and the deep core, oversimplified, co-contract i.e. work together. Lifting the pelvic floor should ideally automatically cause the deepest core muscle, the Tranverse abdominus, to contract. But if the pelvic floor is lifted all the time?? Well of course that is going to jack up that whole coordination system.

Release with a ball:

  • Be aware that if you are new to this you are going to want to find a really squishy one. Sit on the ball just to the inside of one of the sitz bones.  You should be able to look like you are just sitting in the chair, but you may not be able to sink all the way back down- go slow and don’t force it.
  • If you’re able to sit normally and it’s not too intense, add some movement. Circling the upper body, gentle rocking from one sitz bone to the other.  Just explore.  Again- this is genttttttttle.  Do not force yourself through something that is uncomfortable.  The goal is to be able to relax and release.
  • Switch to the other side and do the same thing.

Learn how to move your body better.

Once you have done release work we need to add movement improvement. This is everything. Learning to exercise “smart” is key for your pelvic floor. That is why we have developed an entire program devoted to smart prenatal exercise.One Strong Mama is incredible comprehensive and covers each one of the tools mentioned in this post and much much more. Join our free Facebook community to learn more, watch video tips, and have your questions answered by us.

1. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Crime Victimization Survey, 2010-2014 (2015).
2. Postma, Riemke, et al. “Pelvic floor muscle problems mediate sexual problems in young adult rape victims.” The Journal of Sexual Medicine 10.8 (2013): 1978-1987.
3. Madill, S. J. and McLean, L. (2006), Relationship between abdominal and pelvic floor muscle activation and intravaginal pressure during pelvic floor muscle contractions in healthy continent women. Neurourol. Urodyn., 25: 722–730. doi:10.1002/nau.20285
4. Tajiri, Kimiko, Ming Huo, and Hitoshi Maruyama. “Effects of co-contraction of both transverse abdominal muscle and pelvic floor muscle exercises for stress urinary incontinence: a randomized controlled trial.” Journal of physical therapy science 26.8 (2014): 1161-1163.

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