The topic of a "strong" pelvic floor can be a touchy one. Some people will tell you it needs to be tight, others will tell you that 100 kegels a day should do it, while still others will tell you that having a strong pelvic floor postpartum is a pipe dream.
So wherein lies the truth??
In order to find that, we need to bust a couple of myths first:
1. HAVING A TIGHT PELVIC FLOOR IS DESIRABLE
Think about this one for a quick second: When is the last time you've thought of any other muscle in your body being tight as desirable?? I've never heard someone say "Ugh, I wish my hamstrings were tighter" or "Yessss, my shoulders are finally so tight!"
Can we agree that would be ridiculous??
T-Pain thinks it is too...
You don't want tight pelvic floor muscles because just like any other muscle in your body, that tightness can lead to pain and difficulty functioning the way the muscles are intended to.
2. DOING KEGELS EVERY DAY WILL SOLVE ALL OF YOUR PROBLEMS
I will admit that this one can be sometimes tricky. For SOME women, doing kegels will be enough to relieve their pelvic floor symptoms.
For MANY women though, kegels either won't be enough AND they may even make your symptoms worse.
Remember how I mentioned above that you actually don't want a tight vagina? Well, kegels serve to tighten those muscles, and for many women with issues like incontinence and tailbone pain, or for women with pelvic organ prolapse, or for those who experience painful sex, it's due to an overly tight pelvic floor.
Read: Kegels may not be for you.
So what do you do then if the traditional advice may not be the advice for you??
HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW FOR A TRULY STRONG PELVIC FLOOR
Your pelvic floor doesn't exist in a vacuum. Your body works as a system, so if one part of the system isn't doing it's job, your pelvic floor suffers. A weak core or glute muscles, tight hamstrings (there's that word again!), and a locked down upper body can all play a role (among other things)
You need pelvic floor muscles that can LENGTHEN as well as contract. Imagine if your bicep was contracted all day long. Your hand would always be up by your shoulder and it would be pretty darn hard to get anything done. When you strengthen your pelvic floor muscles to work in both directions, they get their full ability to function.
You need to choose a plan and stick it out. Whether you decide to go to a pelvic floor physiotherapist, do corrective exercise (with someone like me 😉), do hypopressives, or whatever other avenue you want to go down, you need to be patient and give it time. We're used to a society of instant gratification, but our bodies need time to adapt and learn the new input we're giving them.
A quick summary to wrap this up:
A tight vagina is desirable for no one
Kegels may not be for you
You need to strengthen and lengthen the muscles that support your pelvic floor
Your pelvic floor muscles need to strengthen in both a lengthened and shortened state
Choose a path to start resolving symptoms and give it an honest chance. Don't be afraid to start small and add on as you go
Now, if you're ready to take a step towards learning how to help out your pelvic floor in this more holistic way, check out my Core & Pelvic Floor Assessment. We'll break down what you need to do in your body to help your symptoms diminish :)