We’ve all heard the gospel of Kegel exercises for years. If you want to strengthen your pelvic floor, prevent or lessen incontinence, and increase sexual pleasure, Kegels can help strengthen and tighten the muscles in your pelvic floor. But what if your pelvic floor is already tight, and sometimes painfully so? Enter the reverse kegel.
According to Harvard Medical School, Dr. Arnold Kegel developed the exercise that bears his name in the 1940s to address incontinence in women after childbirth. Developing a strong pelvic floor is essential to control urine flow by supporting the muscles that hold the bladder in place and increasing sexual pleasure by contracting vaginal muscles during intercourse.
A reverse Kegel is really the opposite of a Kegel — you’re consciously relaxing the muscles in your pelvic floor instead of tightening them. The muscles there control not only your sexual response but also your urination and bowel movements. Conventional advice says to imagine that you’re urinating and then use the same muscles that you would use to stop the flow to perform a standard Kegel.
For a reverse Kegel, imagine the opposite — if you were urinating, let it flow! That’s why it’s important only to practice reverse Kegels with an empty bladder. It may be easier to practice reverse Kegels if you already do standard Kegels. Since the muscles are the same, you’ll know which ones to isolate.
Many may think, “Why would I need to relax when I’ve been told to tighten all my life?” This can seem counterintuitive, but for women who struggle with pain during sex or chronic constipation, relaxing the pelvic floor can significantly relieve pain. Extremely tight pelvic muscles can also be a root cause of inflexibility and, by extension, lower back pain. With many nerve endings starting in the pelvic girdle, relaxing the area can significantly reduce pain.
Reverse Kegels aren’t limited to women, either. Many men find significant pain relief from tightness. Pelvic floor rehab using reverse Kegels has also proved to help those who struggle with premature ejaculation.
To perform a reverse Kegel, it’s best to empty your bladder first since the muscles you’re trying to relax can control urine flow. Start by doing a standard kegel to feel where the muscles are that you’re targeting. Once you can feel the pelvic sling contract, return to your original position.
It may be helpful to try reverse Kegels from a sitting position or lying down. Breathe deeply in what is known as a diaphragmatic breath. Breathing deeply into your diaphragm lowers your diaphragm and, by extension, your pelvic floor. Now, you’re halfway there.
The next step involves a little visualization. Imagine that you’re releasing all the tension in your body and lengthening the muscles between your tail bone and your public bone. You should try to stretch and lengthen the muscles toward the floor if you’re lying down. Try to time your lengthening motion with the inhales of your deep breathing. Try to keep the rest of your body still to isolate the pelvic muscles. If you find yourself tightening your abs or clenching your buttocks, return to start and try again.
Once you’ve mastered the motion in a stationary position, you can increase the number of repetitions and each reverse Kegel duration. Don’t expect results overnight; instead, make these a part of your everyday routine. Some people may see rapid relief in a few weeks. Others will take a bit longer to see results.
Giving a little love to this underappreciated part of our body can make a huge difference in your quality of life, especially if you struggle with painful intercourse or constipation. With a little practice, you can ease the tension and up the pleasure!
It’s important to remember to only do reverse Kegels when you have an empty bladder. Be careful not to overwork your muscles, especially when you’re first starting out. Don’t push or strain. You’ll also want to be mindful of your breath — holding your breath in will only create tension. If you experience any pain or discomfort, stop.
Reverse Kegels are a simple stretching exercise that helps you relax your pelvic floor. This can increase flexibility and relieve pelvic pain and tension. While traditional Kegels contract and release the pelvic region, reverse Kegels release and relax the pelvic floor muscles. Chat with a fitness professional to ensure you’re doing these exercises correctly. If so, you can expect to see results in as little as a month.
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