To Kegel or Not to Kegel: Truth Behind Pelvic Floor Exercises

kegels, pelvic floor, pelvic floor exercises

To Kegel or Not to Kegel: Truth Behind Pelvic Floor Exercises


Your pelvic floor muscles play a critical role in keeping your body functioning properly. From supporting your organs to helping you control your bladder, they are an essential part of your body. To strengthen these muscles, many people engage in a popular exercise called Kegels. But what exactly are Kegels, and why do they work?


In this article, we will explore the history of Kegels and their effectiveness in strengthening pelvic floor muscles. We’ll also examine why some people experience a loss of effectiveness when doing these exercises and how to optimize Kegel techniques for maximum results.


What are Kegels?


Kegels is an exercise meant to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which support the bowels, bladder, and uterus in women. The basic exercise involves tightening and releasing these muscles repeatedly as if you were trying to stop urination mid-stream. This contraction helps increase blood flow to the area while strengthening the muscles that support the internal organs.


You can do Kegels anywhere and anytime, as long as you are comfortable. They don’t require any special equipment, making them an ideal exercise for those who are short on time or don’t have access to a gym. 


Some people opt to use devices called Kegel trainers or "smart balls" to help them perform the exercises. These products can provide feedback on your technique as well as a way to measure progress.


The History of Kegels


Kegels were first introduced in 1948 by Dr. Arnold Kegel, an American gynecologist. An instrument he invented, called the Perineometer, helped him measure the strength of a woman's pelvic muscles. He also developed Kegels as an exercise to help women strengthen their pelvic floor muscles.


At first, Kegels were primarily utilized by women who had difficulty controlling their bladder or were experiencing postpartum issues. Over the years, Kegels have become popular among women of all ages as a way to improve their overall health and well-being. Today, Kegels are widely recommended for both men and women as a form of strengthening and toning the muscles.

The Problem with Kegels


While the benefits of Kegel exercises are numerous, some people have experienced a decrease in effectiveness when doing these exercises. This is because tightening and repeatedly releasing the pelvic floor muscles can lead to over-contraction or constant tension in the area. When this happens, it can weaken the muscles and make them more difficult to control.


Why Kegels Don’t Always Work


Kegel exercises can effectively strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, but it is important to practice them correctly. If you are constantly contracting your pelvic floor muscles without giving them time to rest, you can end up creating an imbalance that can lead to a decrease in effectiveness. It is important to give the area time to relax after each contraction, and it may be beneficial to alternate between shorter and longer contractions.


These exercises can also lead to over-contraction if done incorrectly. If you clench the muscles too tightly or for too long, it can cause them to remain in a constant state of tension. This type of contraction can lead to muscle fatigue and decreased effectiveness.


The Benefits of Relaxing Pelvic Floor Muscles


Relaxing the pelvic floor muscles can provide many of the same benefits as Kegels, but without the risk of over-contraction. You can improve circulation and tone the muscles without causing harm by allowing the area to relax completely between contractions.


When done correctly, relaxation exercises can help increase strength in the pelvic floor muscles. These exercises involve consciously letting go of tension in the area and can be done in conjunction with Kegel exercises for better results. Relaxation exercises also help to prevent or reduce pelvic pain, which can be caused by excessive tightening or over-exertion.


How to Effectively Perform Kegels


Before you begin Kegel exercises, it is important to find a relaxed position that allows your body to be comfortable. This could be lying down on your back, sitting in a chair with your feet planted firmly on the ground, or standing up.


Once you have found a comfortable position, consciously contract and release the pelvic floor muscles for a few seconds. You can increase the time and intensity of the exercises as you become more comfortable with them.


Starting with a Relaxed Position


Once you have found a relaxed position, it is important to stay in that position throughout the exercise. This will help ensure that your body is not tensing up as you contract and release the muscles, which can lead to over-contraction.


Releasing the Muscles After Exercises


Releasing the muscles after each contraction is just as important as contracting them. This will help keep your body relaxed and will allow better circulation in the area. To do this, focus on consciously releasing all the tension in the area.


Practical Tips for Relaxation


To help ensure total relaxation after each contraction, focus on relaxing various parts of your body. Here are some tips to get you started:


  1. Jaw – consciously relax the jaw, allowing it to hang loosely.
  2. Chest – take a deep breath and allow your chest and shoulders to drop.
  3. Abdomen – imagine that your abdominal muscles are made of clay and soften as you exhale.
  4. Vagina – focus on the sensation inside and try to feel each muscle release.
  5. Butthole – consciously relax the muscles around your butthole, allowing them to open up as you exhale.




Kegel exercises are beneficial in strengthening and toning the pelvic floor muscles, but they need to be done correctly. Relaxation can be just as important as contraction when it comes to these exercises and should not be overlooked. 


Incorporating relaxation into your Kegel routine can help you get the most out of your workouts and ensure you are not overworking the muscles. Kegels can be a great way to strengthen and tone your pelvic floor muscles when done correctly. 


Make sure you give yourself time to relax after each contraction and focus on relaxing other parts of your body to get the most out of these exercises. With patience and consistency, you can get the results you are looking for.






Dr. Nikki Cohen
Pelvic Floor Therapist in San Diego,
Services in English
Address: San Diego, California
92115 United States
Phone: +1 (818) 606-6717
Email: [email protected]