Why do I have you perform this exercise so frequently with you?
Well, it’s for the health of your pelvic floor.
You probably weren’t expecting that to be my answer, were you?!
Apologies if you’re eating right now… Maybe pop that food down, ok?
I don’t actually prescribe Kegels very often to my pre/postnatal clients, and haven’t done for 3+ years.
Rarely, if ever get you doing one in a classroom environment, mainly because it’s difficult for me to tell from the outside, if you’re doing them from the inside.
If/when I do, it’s likely to be in conjunction with a Women’s Health Physio here in Nottingham, who’s working with the same client as me, 1-2-1.
What are Kegels?
They’re those isolated ‘squeeze and release’, ‘draw up and hold’ exercises that work the pelvic floor muscles.
I want to strengthen your pelvic floor – no question…but, to enable you to gain strength in your vag muscles (and every other muscle in your human body, by the way), you need to gain length/flexibility in it first.
You can’t get strength without first getting length – it’s the basic anatomy muscle model.
Let’s do a little bit of anatomy here so you understand a little more about the muscles that support you (your bump, your pelvic and digestive organs, and a heck of a lot more…).
The pelvic floor muscles run from your pubic bone at the front of your pelvis, then go underneath you, and attach onto the sacrum at the back of your pelvis.
The sacrum is that flat, diamond-shaped bone at the back of your pelvis, where the spine and pelvis meet one another.
It’s kind of just above your butt crack. Ok?
I expect you’re totally feeling around at your builder’s bum now, aren’t you? (in Oz, we call it plumber’s crack – I still prefer that description).
The modern day pregnant and postnatal woman is pretty jacked up in the pelvic department, if I’m honest.
Well, if you’ve spent the vast majority of your life at work, rest and play sitting down – and let’s face it, most modern day humans have…
…the space between your pubic bone and your sacrum has potentially been reduced, and the pelvic floor muscles have been tighter/shorter (this is known as ‘passive shortening’).
Now, correct me if I’m wrong here, but when you sit on a chair, you slump back into it and sit on your tailbone/sacrum, right?
You might not be now because you’re feeling guilty…and me mentioning that actually made you sit better.
If you think about where baby comes out (through your vag….)
….ideally, you’ll want enough space for baby to make their way out naturally and safely, causing as little ruckus to your privates as possible.
That should be your pregnant pelvis’ personal mission statement right there. Tee hee.
So, if you think back to where the pelvic floor muscles are located again (pubic bone to sacrum), it might surprise you to note that yes, it IS actually physically possible to INCREASE the space in your pelvic floor/the pelvic outlet to accommodate a 6lb-10lb baby (or two) coming out.
…doing as little damage as poss…
There’s that pelvic mission statement again.
Ok, so, so far we’ve learnt that the pelvic floor attaches to the sacrum…and so do your butt cheek muscles too.
- Feet hip distance apart (or a little wider if you’re in your third trimester)
- Outside edges of the feet straight
- Knees stacked on ankles
- Tailbone lifted
- Ribs down towards the pelvis
- Chin and shoulders down
You should feel the glutes working and the hamstrings lengthening.
Don’t worry if you don’t ‘feel’ your butt doing much work the first few times you perform a squat – keep moving the knees back over the ankles so your shins are vertical, and poke your bum out.
Sometimes, those butt cheeks have been neglected so much that they switch themselves off…for decades.
And, when you do a squat perfectly, your glutes fire up and pull on the sacrum just enough to create space, between your pubic bone and sacrum.
If you’re doing a squat with your knees forwards, and tailbone tucked under, I can’t help you or your pelvic floor, I’m afraid.
Does all of this relate to exercise after you’ve had your baby too? Most definitely yes.
If you’ve had your baby recently, and you have pelvic floor weakness, I can help.
I’d suggest starting off with my Your Pelvic Matters pelvic floor exercises classes, where you can learn a whole host about what pregnancy has done to your body, strategies for reducing neck/shoulder/back/pelvic pain…and I honestly take really good care of you whilst you’re under my instruction.
And, if you’d prefer to do a class during the day time with baby in tow, then come along to Mummies and Buggies for a safe exercise workout (which has a lot of squats in it!).
It’s a place where you can have fun, get fit, make friends and bring baby.
You’ll also be taught about lifting and caring for your newborn, with as little back/neck/shoulder/hip pain as possible.
And, if you’re pregnant and want to increase the space available in your pelvis to be able to deliver your baby naturally with as little intervention as possible, then come along to Bump to Babe pregnancy fitness classes or pregnancy Pilates in Lady Bay/West Bridgford, Nottingham.
You’ll want to stay as fit and toned as possible, to enable you to withstand the demands of pregnancy, motherhood and beyond!