Here’s a variation on the basic kegel that happens to be an excellent exercise for pregnant women. For childbirth preparation it’s HUGELY important to keep the pelvic floor strong and supportive; however, the muscles also need to learn how to let go to allow for a smooth delivery.
The “elevator kegel” helps to promote coordination and endurance of the pelvic floor muscles and is a great way for people to learn how to contract AND successfully relax the pelvic floor. The importance of learning how to relax the pelvic floor can’t be overstated; before you can strengthen you must learn how to let go. Conversely, your muscles must know how to relax before they can contract fully. This exercise will help you get both “phases” (contraction and relaxation) figured out.
The Elevator Kegel
Think of the pelvic floor as an elevator that goes up two floors. Rather than squeezing and lifting all at once, divide your contraction into two parts. Think of your baseline level of pelvic floor tension as the “lobby.” Start at the lobby and then gently squeeze and lift your pelvic floor muscles just a little bit and STOP (as if your elevator is going up and stopping on the first floor). Then squeeze and lift all the way and STOP (as if your elevator has made it up to the second floor).
Now the most important part: RELAXATION! Relax the pelvic floor just a little bit and STOP (as if your elevator is going back down to the first floor), and then relax the pelvic floor all the way and finish (as if your elevator has made it back to ground level). To take it a bit further, and really promote COMPLETE pelvic floor relaxation, I like to imagine my pelvic floor elevator going PAST the lobby and all the way down to the “basement.” At this point — complete pelvic floor relaxation — I imagine my elevator doors sliding open. This is a great way to release any last little bit of tension in the pelvic floor muscles.
Repeat 5-10 times, focusing on the feeling of contraction (ascent of your elevator) versus relaxation (descent of your elevator). Those who are really adventurous can try three floors! 😉
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