What's the wrong way to do kegals?
November 17, 2016 8:29 AM   Subscribe

I returned from my first OB appointment (yay!) with a booklet of every which thing, including the advice given everywhere to do kegals but "make sure you're doing them correctly." Any kegal-related advice always includes this warning. I assume this means people often do them wrong. But I can only figure one way to do them. How do people who do kegals wrong do them?

So for the record, my method is correct based on the advice always given about how to make sure you're doing it right. But I'd like to compare to the wrong way, too, just to make double sure I'm not doing that! The one weakness in my form is that I find it hard not to hold me breath (or if I don't hold my breath, I find it hard to hold the contraction as tightly as if I do hold my breath).
posted by If only I had a penguin... to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
My physical therapist said that some women really don't get good instruction and end up flexing their buttocks instead.
posted by stowaway at 8:57 AM on November 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

You can use this as a way to engage your entire core/pelvic floor. I had been using my abs wrong my entire life until post baby PT straightened me out.

TMI instructions: The thing that worked for me for kegel was pretend like you're trying to pull a tampon back in. Engaging your core (stomach) at the same time: pretend you are sucking in your tummy to get tight jeans on. Don't push out with your core. I had been pushing out my whole life as a really fit person for sit ups and push ups etc. Now I am way less fit post baby with better abs.
posted by Kalmya at 9:07 AM on November 17, 2016 [3 favorites]

Flexing buttocks and/or contracting abdominals are common ways to do Kegel exercises wrong. Source: a nurse with extensive post-gynecological surgical experience
posted by Sternmeyer at 9:09 AM on November 17, 2016 [4 favorites]

But basically, do lots of Kegals every day and don't worry about how.

Except..no. Don't do this. Some people have really tight quads and hip flexors and really weak glutes, and if your pelvic floor is already too tight, this is gonna make it worse. You need the muscle to be strong but supple, so you need to be able to release, too. Sometimes there are attachments that get all fucked up and tense and pull on everything, too.

Everyone's anatomy is different, so be aware of that or you could exacerbate a problem rather than alleviate it. If you need to strengthen your pelvic floor, I've found that doing kegels (the sucking the tampon up / picking up a grape thing combined with contract / sucking in your lower belly so it's hard as a rock) using the tabata protocol to be the fastest strength builder, but again...make sure you're attending to everything. After a while I had much greater body awareness of all of it, too, which was pretty awesome.
posted by schadenfrau at 9:36 AM on November 17, 2016 [6 favorites]

We're thinking about TTC and I'm an obsessive planner, so I've been doing this routine to try to work on my pelvic floor muscles in advance.

I think the way she describes it as closing the elevator doors and lifting the elevator is more useful than most descriptions I've read (before the ones on this thread!) but to be perfectly honest, I still spent the whole time I was doing this yesterday thinking, "Am I doing this right? My glutes feel tight, is that wrong? How do I loosen those while still maintaining the pelvic floor squeeze?"

So I'm not sure I have answers, but I'm in a similar boat and will be watching this thread closely. (Thank you to Kalmya and schadenfrau for their awesome Kegel descriptions!)
posted by bananacabana at 10:37 AM on November 17, 2016

There is a device that is sold for the purported purpose of aiding in kegel exercises, but it is just a thigh exerciser. "Place the Super Kegel between your thighs and squeeze. Then repeat - squeeze - hold - release." That is one way to do a Kegel exercise the wrong way -- by using the wrong part of the body!
posted by artistic verisimilitude at 10:54 AM on November 17, 2016

I've been working on kegels and strengthening my core and pelvic floor since having diastasis recti after having a baby in 2015.

My physiotherapist told me that there's barely any visible movement when doing kegels, however if you put your two first fingers just above your hip bones (where they jut out a bit) and press down inwards into your abdomen, you should feel the broad inner transverse abdominal muscle tensing. If you feel your belly moving, you are tensing your outer muscles instead. She emphasized that I not forget to breathe while doing these exercises.

I'm also taking a yoga class with a teacher who works largely with pregnant ladies and postpartum ladies. Some of the helpful descriptions of pelvic floor exercises that she gives are "clench the muscles as if holding in your pee", "lift your pelvic floor like an elevator", "bring your belly button in towards your back", all while keeping your ribs and tailbone in neutral position and glutes, legs and shoulders relaxed. She also always reminds us that we should keep breathing throughout.
posted by ohmy at 11:19 AM on November 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

I've seen plenty on how to make sure you're doing it right, so not so interested in that. More on how you'd be doing it if you were doing it wrong. (yes, if you're doing it right your pee would stop, or you can squeeze your finger, but those people whose fingers don't get squeezed...what are they doing instead?)

So for those saying using your abs intstead is the way people do them wrong, is it wrong if you contract your abs at the same time, but you are contracting the right muscles? I find I tend to do both at once and find it difficult to not also contract abs.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 11:55 AM on November 17, 2016

I used this device when I was pregnant, just to help me get it right, and after a while I knew how to do it without.
It is not a weight or weighted cone, but you do the excersie wearing it and if you use a mirror you can watch as it moves up and down. It was cheap and I got it in a drugstore and I did not buy the whole paraphernalia, but rather cleaned it with soap and water and dried on the radiator.
Because it is cheap (or at least was 9 yrs ago) you could use it occasionally just to check if you do it right.
But be sure to check with your OB first if you are permitted to insert anything.
posted by 15L06 at 12:40 PM on November 17, 2016

I dunno how to do kegels wrong, but apparently that's how I do them. I had a doctor tell me that I should do lots of kegels and get my pelvic floor in tone before I came back to him for a scheduled operation roughly five months in the future. So I reviewed how to do kegels - practice holding the same muscles you use to hold in your pee, basically, and I did that. I did that a lot. I did it as a habit, for several hours every day for the entire five months: clenchy, clenchy, clenchy, clenchy, clenchy, clenchy, clenchy REALLY HARD, clenchy REALLY HARD, clenchy REALLY HARD, clenchy, clenchy, clenchy, slow steady clenchy, slow release, slow steady clenchy, slow steady release....

At the end of the five months the doctor did a pre-op examination and said, "Didn't you do any kegels?!"

Now I know I wasn't clenching my butt, and I know I wasn't clenching my belly muscles and I know it was the same muscles as stopped and started the flow of urine because I kegeled every time I peed for the five months before the operation, and went splook, ...splat, ...splork,stopping and starting the way it was supposed to, but whatever it was I was doing it did damn all to make my pelvic floor tone up. It just left me with the idle habit of kegeling ineffectually which I still have fifteen years later.
posted by Jane the Brown at 5:56 PM on November 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

because I kegeled every time I peed for the five months before the operation, and went splook, ...splat, ...splork,stopping and starting the way it was supposed to

Err...sorry to get off topic (sort of), but you're not supposed to do that, and I wonder if doing it counter-acted the kegals you did while not peeing and that's why the surgeon saw no effect. You're supposed to try it (make yourself stop peeing) once or twice to get a sense of where the muscles are, but you're not supposed to routinely stop your urine flow. This is explicitly pointed out in every kegal-advice pamphlet I've seen. If you're peeing, just pee all the way through until you are done. Do your kegals when you're not peeing. In fact, the pamphlet the doctor gave me this time said empty your bladder first.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:10 PM on November 17, 2016

You can also do them wrong by holding your breath.
posted by ewok_academy at 7:34 PM on November 17, 2016

Crap...any tips for holding the contraction without holding your breath?
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:35 PM on November 17, 2016

Do 'em during sex. Pretend you have trapped the penis in question, and will be giving it a good squeeze/suck in before freeing it.

(Bona fides: I went for pelvic physiotherapy postpartum. First order of business was can-you-Kegel. "Ready? Go ahead..." [...] "Oh!" said the physio, sounding a little startled. So apparently that isn't a wrong way.)

However, given the crap birth, physio, and eventual surgery I had, I wish I had read this article about ten years ago; I kinda doubt I needed yet more Kegels. Were you explicitly told that you had some weakness there and you personally could benefit from Kegels, or was it a one-size-fits-all recommendation? Loads of prenatal care is one-size-fits-all and some of it is useless, so always feel free to ask questions. This is also a good question for the ob/gyn -- next time you're in there with fingers up you, ask if you're doing them right and for further instructions if not. (Also, get your partner to volunteer to help evaluate things...)
posted by kmennie at 7:45 PM on November 17, 2016

Maintaing your breath can take a certain amount of concentration and practice. Focus on keeping your breath long and steady. Backing off on the level of contraction might help (building up later once you've gotten the knack).
posted by ewok_academy at 7:46 PM on November 17, 2016

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