I'm Amanda Olson from IntimateRose.com, and I'm a physical therapist specializing in pelvic floor rehabilitation.
One of the questions that we commonly hear at IntimateRose.com is, “Am I supposed to be using my abdominal muscles while I do the Kegel, and if so, why?”
The answer is yes: The abdominals are going to be utilized during the Kegel, but they're going to be used in a very specific way.
The pelvic floor muscles contract in a coordinated pattern, with both the breathing, which we've talked about in other videos available on YouTube, and also the deepest layer of abdominals.
So we actually have four different layers of abdominal muscles.
The ones that we can see are the rectus abdominis that are right in the front; they come from the pubic bone up.
They are the six-pack muscles that everyone tends to spend a lot of time on at the gym.
But those muscles only flex the trunk board; they aren't helpful in stabilizing the core, really, and they don't help the pelvic floor.
Underneath those are the oblique muscles. There are two of them, and they help stabilize the core a little bit and rotate the trunk. But they don't help the pelvic floor.
The deepest layer of abdominals is the transverse abdominis.
They wrap around the trunk.
So they start from the back and wrap all the way around the spine and come forward into the front, almost as if you were being Saran-wrapped around your trunk.
So when you do your Kegel, you're exhaling, and you'll notice that there's a gentle tightening.
If it's a hard tightening, if you're breathing out really hard or contracting really hard, what will happen is those other layers of abdominals will turn on.
They act kind of like a bossy older sibling; they're trying to help, but they're overbearing.
When that happens, when they come on, and they come on hard and strong, they inhibit the deeper muscles.
They make it so that you're not getting the most out of that exercise, both in terms of strengthening the pelvic floor itself and getting it to turn on without having the abdominal muscles pounce on it.
We've talked about how if you inhale or hold your breath during the Kegel it’s like a salmon swimming upstream; the same thing happens if you contract your abdominal muscles too hard.
So it's going to be a gentle contraction.
The best way to think about it is that Saran-wrapping motion; you don't want to necessarily pull your belly button in toward your spine.
That's a really common cue used by some fitness professionals, and even some physical therapists.
If we were to ultrasound your body and view it while you're doing that, we would see that those abdominals would come in and make it very hard on the pelvic floor.
So you just want to imagine that you're being Saran-wrapped very gently around the middle while you're doing the Kegel, in order to use those abdominals to help with the contraction.
For more educational videos, you can visit Intimate Rose on YouTube or at IntimateRose.com.