| Caroline Knight
We recently wrote an article about tight pelvic floor muscles, which is a problem affecting women of all ages, and for various reasons. You may have come across the words ‘kegel muscles’ and ‘pelvic floor muscles’ but they’re actually the same thing. So when you hear about kegel exercises, that’s the muscle group it relates to. You might even hear the exercises referred to as ‘doing a kegel’, as the need for these exercises are so common! So, do you need to relax your kegel muscles?
You may be unsure if tight kegel muscles are your problem. Well, you’ll be able to tell when you have tight kegel muscles as you will probably feel some kind of pain in the pelvic area, in the form of constriction or spasms in the muscles. Some women find that they struggle to pee, or need to go constantly but can’t get the flow going.
Others feel that they haven’t been able to empty their bladder fully, and others get constipation. Dyspareunia (painful sex) is another problem that can result from having tight kegel muscles. We’re sure you’ll want rid of these symptoms as soon as possible, so let’s take a look at what you can do to relax your kegel muscles.
Ways to relax your kegel muscles
As always, prevention is better than cure. If you’re well past the stage of prevention, you’ll need to loosen the kegel muscles up and then continue with the same practices in order to prevent any reoccurrences.
- Be careful not to strain
Whenever you’re using the toilet and struggling to go, there may be a tendency to want to push. This isn’t a good idea as it only encourages the kegel muscles to tighten up more. Pushing and straining to pass stools or urine is simply going to worsen the problem, and perhaps lead to other unpleasant side effects (such as painful fissures). Constipation medicine or even natural constipation remedies like prune juice would be a better option.
- Take warm baths once a day or more
Good old heat is an effective solution for many problems, and especially for tight and sore muscles. When you have chronically tight pelvic floor muscles (also known as a hypertonic pelvic floor), taking a warm bath once or twice a day will encourage the muscles to relax.
- Sort out your posture
It’s time to start paying attention to your posture. How you are sitting and walking could be part of the reason you’re unable to relax your kegel muscles. By sitting up straight with your back against a chair back and your feet placed firmly on the floor, you take pressure away from the pelvic organs and bladder and give your kegel muscles less work to do.
When you walk, notice if you are carrying tension in your lower back, as this is another sign of (or cause of) a tight pelvic floor. Make sure you’re walking with proper posture at all times and your pelvic floor will thank you for it!
- Take time out to de-stress
Even though we tend to overlook the pelvic floor as a stress carrier, we actually carry a whole lot of our stress in this area. The moment we become anxious, worried or angry, the kegel muscles are going to tense up. Although the results may not be instantaneous, over time you may find you have developed a hypertonic pelvic floor.
Take a few minutes each day to meditate, practice gratitude for all the things you love (rather than focusing on what you don’t); give yourself an hour each day (or however long you can spare) just for you, and watch where your thoughts are going – try to catch them before they go into a negative spiral. Mindfulness has many benefits, one of which is relaxed kegel muscles!
- Ask a practitioner for help
If you are really can’t relax your kegel muscles on your own, you may need to see a Doctor or pelvic floor physical therapist. Your Doctor might decide to give you a local muscle relaxant in the form of a compounded vaginal or rectal diazepam. However, a pelvic floor physical therapist can offer longer-term solutions.
The bottom line is that if you really want to relax your kegel muscles, where there’s a will, there’s a way! Just because you can’t see them doesn’t mean you can’t train them. You might also be interested in our other article on this topic, in which we talked about how you can relax your pelvic floor muscles using deep breathing exercises and yoga-style muscle stretches, so don’t forget to try those out too!