We’ve all heard of Kegel exercises but now there’s an app that could change the game in pelvic floor health – we talk to the experts about it and find out exactly how to get your pelvic muscles into good shape
One muscle group that you’re not targeting at the gym is the pelvic floor. Deemed the ‘Fitbit for your lady bits,’ the new KGoal is causing a buzz on crowdfunding site Kickstarter. The device will be a personal trainer for your vagina, encouraging you to actually want to do your Kegel exercises.
KGoal works with an app to give info on your pelvic workout and track progress. It also has a vibrational motor that lets you know if you’re doing the Kegel correctly, which you can turn up or off based on your preferences. Minna Life are the company that developed kGoal (they specialise in vibrators, just saying) with physiotherapist Liz Miracle, who runs her own pelvic floor physical therapy practice and is also an Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of California San Francisco School of Physical Therapy.
‘So many products are made to make women’s vaginas tighter in order to please partners. This was about strengthening for self-empowerment,’ Miracle said. ‘I lose patients to shear boredom. KGoal will include tasteful games to make it more interesting setting goals to achieve, making it more desirable to do the exercises.’
KGoal currently has 1,888 backers on Kickstarter, raising $225,510 since June 23, significantly surpassing their $90,000 goal.
While KGoal is still at prototype stage with pre-orders available, there are other gadgets to help exercise the pelvic floor muscles available now.
Kegel balls force the wearer to contract muscles to hold the balls in place à-la-50 Shades. Pelvic toners like Kegel8 and PelvicToner work differently. Kegel8 stimulates the pelvic floor by sending electrical pulses to contract the muscle. The PelvicToner is like a mini ThighMaster, creating resistance while you clench during Kegel exercising.
However, Katie Mann, a specialist physiotherapist at Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust, advises to consult a physio before using a device like this. She said, ‘Some claims these products make are misleading. It is important to look at the risks of the product because some may cause damage to internal tissues.’
The pelvic floor muscles run from your pelvic bone to the base of your spine, supporting the bladder, bowel and uterus. They can become weakened by childbirth, age, weight gain and high impact exercise.
Doing Kegel exercises strengthens the pelvic floor. They’re simple clench and release exercises but it’s important to know the correct muscles in order for Kegel exercises to work and not to contract the muscles of the lower abdomen, thighs or buttocks while doing Kegel exercises. To identify the pelvic floor, squeeze the passages you use to wee and pass gas.
Mann recommends holding and squeezing the muscles for 10 seconds and do four to six sets at a time. She also says to try and do them four times a day. It is easier to do the exercises lying down. As you build strength, you can try doing them sitting and standing.
‘A person will see progress in two to four weeks, but should keep up with the exercises for four months to see more of an improvement,’ Mann said. ‘It is similar to any other exercise. You have to work at them and lasting results take time.’
In the 1940s, Dr. Arnold Kegel developed these exercises to help women regain bladder control after childbirth and menopause. But his patients noticed other benefits, and the exercises caught popularity.
5 ways pelvic floor exercises can help you
- Supporting a baby in pregnancy The pelvic floor supports the baby during pregnancy and strengthening these muscles helps the body manage changes during pregnancy and in recovery. It also helps prevent incontinence during and after pregnancy.
- Prevention of incontinence It’s more common that you might think. In a study, BJU International found that 76% of women experience problems with incontinence, which can be caused by stress, aging and childbirth.
- Prevention of prolapse in later life The Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions Research Unit found that pelvic floor muscle exercises are ‘effective for improvement of symptoms associated with prolapse such as the feeling of pelvic heaviness and a bulge in the vagina, discomfort when standing, and interference with bladder and bowel function.’ They are conducting further studies to gauge whether prolonged use of these exercises could prevent surgery for this condition.
- Musculoskeletal stability A strong pelvic floor better supports the entire pelvic region, relieving back and pelvic pain.
- Better orgasms Women with a strong pelvic floor experienced enhanced sexual arousal, improved sensation and intensified orgasms.
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