Have you heard of “Elvie?”
Elvie is a kegel exercise tracker that’s new on the market, and my friends… If you’ve ever wondered what’s ACTUALLY going on when you do your kegels, then you need to try Elvie.
Elvie is marketed as your most “personal” trainer, which is a tagline I love. 🙂 It’s very similar to a tool called “Intra-Vaginal EMG Biofeedback” that I used when I was working as a clinical women’s health physical therapist (and billing insurance companies and working with diagnosis codes, etc)…. But now you don’t have to go to the clinic to get visual feedback about your pelvic floor muscle activity. It’s pretty great! You can do it from the comfort and privacy of your own home.
Why should you do pelvic floor exercises?
The pelvic floor muscles are a small but incredibly important part of a woman’s body. They run from the tip of the tailbone to the pubic bone and support the pelvic organs from below, like a hammock. When healthy and toned they hold up the bladder, bowel and uterus for a strong core and great control. However, everything from childbirth to a sedentary lifestyle to aging to high impact sports can weaken them, so they need exercise, just like any other muscle.
Some people have TOO MUCH TONE in their pelvic floor muscles. Their pelvic floor muscles aren’t necessarily “strong,” but they’re TENSE, which can cause it’s own set of problems. Read more about “Hulk Vagina” here, and note that Elvie may be helpful — when used with caution and care — for people in this situation as well. Read on.
How does Elvie help with pelvic floor strengthening?
Elvie is the little green pod-like device you see in the image above. It is inserted vaginally. Elvie includes simple instructions that make it easy to figure out, and don’t worry… It’s actually quite comfortable!
The motion sensors inside the Elvie pod measure pelvic floor muscle movement (contraction and relaxation), and give highly accurate biofeedback which you can view using the Elvie app. The app is a free download that is easy to install on your phone/mobile device.
It can be difficult to exercise a muscle you can’t see, but Elvie provides you with visual feedback that’s highly motivating and PERSONALIZED. After your initial calibration session, you’ll get personalized targets that help you track your progress. The app also provides guidance for women who have difficulty contracting their pelvic floor. It makes pelvic floor strengthening (kegels) FUN, which — as you ladies know — is key!
Why does Dr. Bri think Elvie is fab?
Ha! I just referred to myself in the 3rd person. That was weird.
Anyway, I think Elvie is fab because here’s the deal… Many women are not doing kegels correctly! And if you’re not doing kegels RIGHT, then you could be doing more harm than good when you exercise your pelvic floor.
Some common kegel pitfalls and how Elvie can help:
- Many women accidentally press down (bear down) instead of pulling their pelvic floor muscles “in and up” when doing a kegel contraction. Elvie lets you know if you’re pressing down because it’ll pop out of your body! The feedback is quite immediate and blatant in this case.
- Elvie lets you know if your contractions aren’t quite as strong as you thought. And even more importantly, Elvie will let you know if you’re NOT RELAXING fully after each contraction. This is in reference to the caveat mentioned above… Hypertonicity is actually a fairly COMMON problem among women, and Elvie provides VISUAL FEEDBACK that let’s you see the strength of your contraction as well as how well you’re relaxing. When used with care, Elvie could be useful to women who have hypertonicity in the pelvic floor muscles. However, I’d caution women with excessive pelvic floor tension to use Elvie under the supervision/care of a licensed women’s health physical therapist, and I’d also caution you to STOP if the use of Elvie increases your symptoms or causes any pain or muscle soreness.
- If you have pelvic pain and/or excess pelvic tension, please try my pelvic drop video (you could try this while using Elvie, perhaps), and my pelvic floor release stretches (do not use Elvie during these exercises!).
Another cool thing about Elvie is that she’ll let you see — visually — how your pelvic floor strength holds up over time… In other words, how’s your endurance? Mine was surprisingly not-so-good!
Elvie also shows you — visually — how your body responds to pelvic floor muscle contractions in different positions and functional activities. You can use Elvie while lying down, sitting, standing (and assess the differences between positions)… And you can even watch your pelvic floor muscle activity as you walk around, cough, laugh… Or do hip circles! That’s what I did in this video, and the results were fascinating:
It was really neat for me to see:
- My strength of kegel contraction and ability to relax…
- That hip circles (without conscious addition of kegel contractions and relaxations) keep the pelvic floor muscles quite active throughout the motion…
- That hip circles WITH the intentional, conscious addition of a pelvic floor contraction (as you circle forward) and pelvic floor relaxation (as you circle back) resulted in an even better pelvic floor exercise than a kegel alone.
All in all, I think Elvie is a fun and interesting tool for any woman who’s interested in building pelvic floor strength and endurance, and/or for any woman who wants to see — with visual feedback — what’s happening “down there” when she exercises her pelvic floor.
Until next time, remember: eat clean, move every day, and you WILL shine brighter! Lots of love and light,
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~Dr. Bri, PT, DPT