An Enlightened Approach to Kegel Exercises
We’ve all heard that a definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting a different result.
Isn’t that what we’ve done for years with Kegel exercises? Countless hours of practising while wondering if we’d got the right muscle, or if there was any point in doing the exercises anyway as we weren’t really feeling that our effort was making any difference.
A little known fact about Kegel exercises which often surprises people when they first hear it is that they were never meant to be performed the way in which they are today. Indeed, they were never meant to be performed the way they have been for decades!
Dr Kegel was an American surgeon, Associate Professor of Gynaecology at the University of Southern California and Health Commissioner of Chicago, who spent more than thirty-two years in the study of the female pelvis and the muscles therein.
His studies document his results with thousands of women that show the incredible benefits to be gained from Kegel exercises when performed correctly. In 1950 Dr Kegel had achieved complete relief of urinary stress incontinence in 93% of a group of 300 women in this way.
“On the strength of these favorable results urinary stress incontinence in women is no longer routinely treated by surgical intervention at…LA County General Hospital.” Dr Kegel. (A progress in Gynecology, 1950 p.786)
Isn’t it amazing to think that the results he was getting in the last century are even better than the generally accepted success rates for incontinence surgery carried out today? How were these results achieved? By ensuring that the exercise protocol that his patients followed consisted of two essential elements:
1) Isolating the pelvic floor muscle (using no abdominal, buttock or thigh muscles) 2) Working the pelvic floor muscle against resistance
What is commonly known as a Kegel exercise today bears little relation to authentic Kegel exercises. Dr Kegel knew that the exercises were pretty useless without either of these components. If you’ve been struggling to get results with Kegel exercises, maybe for years, now you know why they seem to be exercises in futility.
Think about it like this – Squeezing against nothing is about as effective as trying to rehabilitate or build muscle in your arm simply by flexing it up and down, you could do that forever and see little improvement. However, put a small weight in your hand and exercise against the resistance of that, adding slightly heavier weights as the arm gets stronger and improvement in strength and tone is inevitable.
Imagine going to the gym and finding all the equipment has been taken out and you’re told you can go through the motions of doing the exercise and achieve the same result! This is what women have been told about pelvic floor exercise over the last half century, and still are. By merely going through the motions of doing the exercise you cannot come close to achieving the results that come from actually doing the proper exercise.
Dr Kegel was quoted in TIME magazine, Dec 3rd, 1956 as saying, “There is a better way than surgery to correct most cases of pubococcygeal weakness”