It is believed that doing Kegels -- squeezing the muscles inside the vagina, the ones that hold in pee -- makes your pelvic floor stronger and can help prevent incontinence and other things that can arise after childbirth, like PFD (Pelvic Floor Disorder). Many pregnant women are encouraged to do them. All women, really. But bio-mechanical scientist Katy Bowman of Katy Says told Mama Sweat that we're all doing it wrong and it's not helping to prevent anything.
In fact, she thinks Kegels might be causing more harm than good.
Katy wants people to know that rates of PFD happen equally in men and women, even amongst women who've never had children. She shares that pregnancy and birth can make you have issues sooner, but that it certainly isn't the cause.
Her findings say the cause of pelvic floor issues is the sacrum (space 42 to 43 on this picture) moving inwards into the pelvic "bowl." The more inward the sacrum gets, the more droopy the pelvic floor gets. It's kind of like if you have a trampoline that is taught and bouncy, but then the frame bends, so it sags and doesn't bounce back as well.
So, what does that have to do with Kegels? Well the more Kegels you do, she says, the more the interior of the sacrum is pulled, making the pelvic floor sag MORE. Say WHAT? She explained to Mama Sweat:
I know, I feel like I'm running around saying The Sky Is Falling, The Sky Is Falling. The misunderstanding of pelvic floor issues is so widely spread, I'm a Team of One right now. But, I've got all of the science backing it up and it makes sense, the kegel is just such a huge part of our inherited culture information, no one bothered to fully examine it.
So what does she think we SHOULD we be doing? Building up the glutes, through deep squats, she says. As many physical therapists will tell you, building up the right muscles to hold things in place is imperative to body health, and Katy says that the glutes are the key to keeping the sacrum pulled OUT, and therefore, the pelvic floor stays taut. She feels super-strong muscles in one place (like the muscles Kegels work on) can actually be really BAD for you if you don't have the other muscles built up equally that hold things in the right places. So instead of just working out one part of your body, we have to do more work.
Work on that butt, she says. A flat butt can be a sign that you've let those glutes go and the pelvis is collapsing in on itself. (Wow, is that why so many women lose their butt after baby?) Katy's DVD (part of her Aligned and Well series) Down There is supposed to teach people (not just women!) how to perform squats in a way that helps build the butt and keep a healthy pelvic floor.
Great. Another thing to worry about.
What do you think about her thoughts on Kegels? Are you a flat butt after baby victim?
Image via perpetualplum/Flickr