how to activate your pelvic floor

"Do Your Kegels" or Is it, "Never Kegel"?

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For years there’s been a trend to tell everyone to “do your kegels” and we are currently seeing a shift in the other direction. We’ve recently heard both other pre/postnatal professionals and pregnancy care providers telling women they should never kegel.

We’re here to help clear up that contradictory information and educate you on why we think a general statement one way or the other is dangerous.

If you've taken class with us, you are familiar with the cue, "Pump & Kegel".  We remind you to fire this inner core unit constantly.  But why are we so focused on that? 

The muscles of your pelvic floor support your uterus, bladder and bowel.  They are important for sexual function AND work with the rest of the muscles of the core to stabilize and support the spine.  They also support the extra weight of the uterus and growing baby during pregnancy.  

Many of us don't realize that the pelvic floor, like our diaphragm, is part of our core.  Having an over active or under active pelvic floor negatively effects all the functions associated with breathing, digestion, eliminating toxins and moving through our every day lives.  It also helps neutralize intra-abdominal pressure, making us less susceptible to developing a Diastasis Recti (abdominal separation).   Your pelvic floor should contract and release with every single diaphragmatic breath which is why we cue the contraction AND release in all our classes at FPC.

We are bringing a hyper awareness to what your core should be doing naturally because most of us are dysfunctional movers and breathers. We do this because training your muscles to move functionally means that they will be able to properly support you in your day to day movements outside of class as well.

This is why we disagree with the general, blanket advice to either A: do your kegels or B: never kegel. A fully functioning pelvic floor does both! Everyone should understand the muscles of their pelvic floor. Some women need to strengthen them, some need to learn to relax them. If this isn’t information you can assess on your own (many of us can’t), you should seek out someone who can help you assess whether or not you are doing kegels correctly and if you need to devote time to training them to function properly.

If you are given the advice to either kegel or never kegel, what should you do?

Ask follow up questions! Does your care provider notice something specific that has led them to make that recommendation? If so, ask them what they see and what are they concerned about. Another thing you should do is ask for a referral to see a pelvic floor therapist to address the issue. Your midwife or OB is excellent at what they do, but they don’t have the credentials to assess your pelvic floor and prescribe exercises in the way that specialist that can. It’s important to get the help you need.


Want to learn more? Join us for one of our upcoming Protecting your Core and Pelvic Floor for Birth and Postpartum workshops. We’ll teach you to assess your pelvic floor and give you all the information needed to understand how to exercise through pregnancy and postpartum safely.

5 questions answered about Elvie

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Contributed by Dr. Erin Williams, DPT

I am not affiliated with Elvie but I am a Pelvic Health Physical Therapist who understands how difficult it can be to perform a kegel (pelvic floor muscle contraction) correctly and I am always looking for tools to better assist my clients with accomplishing a strong and healthy pelvic floor and took it upon myself to personally try out Elvie! Here is what I found!

1. What is Elvie?

Elvie is a small green sensory device that is placed into the vagina during use and connects with the Elvie app that can be downloaded for free onto your smart phone. The app provides strengthening and endurance training exercises with visual aids and performance tracking to better help you connect with and provide feedback for your pelvic floor muscles. 

2. Does it work? 

The short answer is, YES! I found that it was very accurate and responsive to correct pelvic floor muscle contractions (kegel) and would notify me when I was (purposely) doing a kegel incorrectly, or “bearing down” which is a common error made my many women. An important point to note is that Elvie is an up-trainer for the pelvic floor so all of the exercises are geared toward strengthening the pelvic floor and not for relaxing the pelvic floor muscles. Although less talked about, the pelvic floor can have too much muscle tightness/tension (think pain with penetration/sex or constipation) and strengthening the muscles will not benefit this presentation. If you feel like this is you, I would strongly advise getting evaluated by a Pelvic Health Physical Therapist first before trying Elvie. Overall I loved using Elvie to track my progress and identify where I was weak! I am a visual learner and competitive with myself so seeing that I was improving over just 1 week of training and having visual aides to facilitate my kegel was very helpful!

3. Is it uncomfortable/painful to place and use?

Elvie is quite comfortable and easy to place and use! If you feel like you bear-down when initiating a kegel the Elvie device will slip out of you so this can be helpful immediate feedback!

4. Can I use it while Pregnant and postpartum?

Yes, Elvie can be used while pregnant. The Elvie website states that it can be used with non complicated pregnancies and to seek medical advice from your doctor if unsure. It can be used 6+ weeks postpartum. There is no need to use it immediately  following postpartum as the pelvic floor muscles are healing and just need to rest.  

5, How much is it and where can I buy it?

Elvie is normally $199 however for Fit Pregnancy Club mammas I was able to get a DISCOUNT CODE (elvie15b) which you can enter at checkout and enjoy 15% off! www.elvie.com

I would recommend this device to anyone looking to have improved awareness of their pelvic floor muscles for pregnancy, postpartum, urinary incontinence or better sex! I would strongly encourage women to have a pelvic floor assessment completed by a Pelvic Health Physical Therapist first to make sure Elvie is a good fit for you! 

If you have any questions or are interested in getting to know your pelvic floor better please do not hesitate to reach out to me at erin@womenshealthnyc.com and let me know you read my blog on the FPC website and receive $50 OFF your first session with me! 

-Erin Williams, DPT

www.womenshealthnyc.com

Instagram: eewilliams20

Why the "kegel" in Pump & Kegel is so Important

 
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Written by Dr. Erin Williams, DPT

The pelvic floor can be a confusing buzz word heard in the pregnant and postpartum world where most people know they should be doing something with it but are unsure what exactly! 

The pelvic floor are a group of muscles, fascia and connective tissue that act as a support system to the internal organs, and spans from the tailbone to the pubic bone.  During pregnancy the weight of the baby causes increased pressure and strain on the pelvic floor which is why it is so important to train and strengthen the pelvic floor muscles during pregnancy and postpartum much like one would strengthen the bicep muscle for increased arm strength. 

The labor and delivery process can cause injury and stretching to the pelvic fascia and muscles as well making it critical to give the pelvic floor extra attention after delivery and before resuming prior pre-pregnancy level of activity to avoid pelvic pain, pelvic organ prolapse, and urinary incontinence (ie. peeing while jumping, coughing etc.). A Physical Therapist who specializes in pelvic health can serve as a valuable practitioner with the correct assessment of ones pelvic floor and provide guidance with stretches and exercises specific to the individuals presentation. While many people are aware of a “Kegel” it is not alway advised especially if the pelvic floor has hypertension and requires relaxation and stretching exercises. 


Join us with Dr. Erin Williams, DPT, on Wednesday, March 21st starting at 5:30pm.

 Dr. Erin is be explaining what the pelvic floor is and how to engage it correctly. We will also talk about Diastasis Recti, how to reduce the muscle separation as well as safe exercise prescription while pregnant.