How To Do Kegel Exercises (And Why You Might Not Need To)

How To Do Kegel Exercises (And Why You Might Not Need To) | Capitol Physical Therapy | Washington DC Physical Therapists

You’ve likely heard of Kegel exercises, even if you aren’t one hundred percent sure what they’re, or why someone would do them.

The name Kegel comes from the American gynecologist Arnold Kegel.

He was the first to come up with the idea that doing exercises could help with issues related to weak pelvic floor muscles, which can lead to numerous other conditions.

If you’re familiar with Kegel exercises, then the advice to do them usually comes with a long list of reasons why using them to strengthen the pelvic floor is important.

Maybe you’ve heard that Kegels can help prevent urinary incontinence and other pelvic floor problems that can cause urinary incontinence.

Or, perhaps you’ve heard they can help make sex feel better and increase the strength of your orgasms.

These are some compelling reasons to do Kegels, however as a physical therapy clinic offering pelvic floor therapy, we want you to be aware that it’s possible to get too much of a good thing.

Keep reading to learn more about Kegel exercises, and why you don’t want to overdo them.

What Are Kegel Exercises?

Kegel exercises are also known as pelvic floor muscle training.

These exercises can help strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor, which are found near the base of your pelvis, between your hips.

Although commonly thought of as something primarily for those assigned female at birth, they can be useful regardless of your gender.

Statistics on urinary incontinence show that 32% of women and 16% of men will experience at least one pelvic floor dysfunction within their lifetime.

RELATED: Physical Therapy For Men’s Health Issues

If you see a postpartum physical therapist, they may suggest these exercises as they can help you restore your pelvic floor after childbirth.

They may also be useful to help manage bladder problems as well as improve bowel control.

So it may be a good idea to consider incorporating Kegel exercises into your physical therapy regiment, depending on your issues.

These exercises involve tightening and releasing the pelvic floor muscles, the same way you would if you needed to hold in your pee when you can’t get to a bathroom.

What Are Your Pelvic Floor Muscles?

Your pelvic floor muscles are muscles which are both internal and external to the pelvic region.

They’re located between the tailbone and the pubic bone and support the bowel and bladder and can be used to start and stop the flow of urine and feces.

Your pelvic floor muscles are an important group of muscles that also provide support to the:

  • Bladder
  • Uterus
  • Small intestine
  • Rectum
  • Sexual organs
  • Lower back

All of the openings that run from these organs run through your pelvic floor muscles.

The pelvic floor also helps:

  • Control your sphincter muscles that control your anus.
  • Stabilize your pelvic bones
  • Sexual function

Your pelvic floor muscles should be able to contract and lift and also constrict.

When these muscles are strong you are usually able to urinate and defecate properly.

However, there are a number of factors that can cause your pelvic floor muscles to weaken and cause issues with bodily functions, such as:

Kegel exercises may be able to help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles if they’ve been affected by the conditions listed above, as well as other possible causes.

RELATED: Physical Therapy For Pelvic Floor Dysfunction in Women

How To Find Your Pelvic Floor Muscles

If you’re new to Kegels, then the first step is to locate your pelvic floor muscles.

For those assigned female at birth, this can be done by inserting a clean finger into your vagina and tightening your vaginal muscles around it.

You should feel pressure around your finger when you do this.

These are the same muscles that are strengthened when you do Kegel exercises.

Another method, which can be used regardless of gender, is, when you’re using the toilet, to stop urinating mid flow.

The muscles used to do this are the pelvic floor muscles.

Although this is a great way to determine where your pelvic floor muscles are, and how to contract them, this should not be done on a regular basis.

Stopping urinating mid flow regularly can increase your risk of urinary tract infections.

For those assigned male at birth, you can also tighten the muscles you would use to keep from passing gas.

Tips For How To Do Kegels Well

It’s important to note that while Kegels is the most popular name for these exercises, in the physical therapy world we refer to them as “pelvic floor contractions”.

Regardless of the name, however, once you’ve located your pelvic floor muscles, you can start to perform these exercises.

Kegel exercises can be performed in any position but you may find that lying down may be the easiest way to perform them.

Start by making sure you have an empty bladder.

As noted above, holding in your urine can lead to a higher incidence of bladder infections.

Tighten your pelvic floor muscles and hold them contracted for three seconds.

Afterwards, relax them for three seconds.

While you contract your pelvic floor muscles, your abdominal and back muscles, as well as your glutes, should remain largely at rest.

Overtime, this will strengthen your pelvic floor muscles.

Try to avoid holding your breath while performing these exercises.

For optimal benefits, it’s recommended to perform these exercises at least three sets of ten repetitions a day.

If you feel lower back pain or abdominal pain after performing Kegel exercises, this means you’re not doing them correctly.

Kegel exercises, and why you don’t want to overdo them | Capitol Physical Therapy | Washington DC Physical Therapists

Do You Need To Do Kegels?

The issue with Kegels comes in when they become overused.

While they are used to strengthen muscles, you run the risk of these muscles becoming too tight, or over tightening muscles that are already tight.

If your pelvic floor muscles are overworked and unable to relax then it can lead to problems, such as having trouble controlling your pelvic floor muscles.

This can lead to urinary incontinence, and painful intercourse.

Other signs that may indicate that you’ve been overdoing Kegel exercises include:

  • Persistent pelvic pain or discomfort
  • Increased frequency or urgency to urinate
  • Difficulty emptying your bladder
  • Hip pain
  • Muscle spasms

If you’ve been doing pelvic floor contractions and are experiencing any of these issues due to overworked pelvic floor muscles, then that’s where a physical therapist can help.

RELATED: Natural Pain Management Solutions From Physical Therapy

That’s when it’s a good idea to…

Book Your Appointment With Capitol Physical Therapy Today

Are you experiencing issues which could be related to weak pelvic floor muscles, such as urinary incontinence or pain during sexual intercourse?

Did you go a little overboard when trying to follow the advice from a blogger or TikToker about how and when to perform these exercises and now want help trying to undo constricted, tight muscles?

Remember, it’s always best to come talk to a professional in a safe, judgment free space.

If you’re experiencing issues with your pelvic floor muscles, whether they are actually weak and need strengthening, or if you’ve “overtrained” them and need some help to relax, we’ve got you covered.

Helping clients in Washington DC and Upper Marlboro Maryland, we assist with these issues and many more.

Book your appointment with Capitol Physical Therapy today.

Capitol Physical Therapy
1331 H St NW #200,
Washington, DC 20005


9560 Pennsylvania Ave. # 202,
Upper Marlboro, MD 20772


Capitol Physical Therapy offers orthopedic and other pain related solutions, with our versitile team of physical therapists in Washington, DC