Kegel 2.0 Part 2

In Kegel 2.0 Part 1, we worked on increasing awareness of the portion of the pelvic floor that helps stop leaks by using a positional cue, shifting at the ankles as if you were going off a ski jump. This position gives women better awareness and access to this elusive set of muscles so they can begin to strengthen effectively.

Feeling the front half of the pelvic floor is just the first step. Now we need to take it to the next level, this time reconnecting the pelvic floor with the Core. The pelvic floor is one of four muscles that make up the Core. The diaphragm, transversus abdominis (TA) and multifidus are the other three. The Core muscles are designed to work together as a team to function at their best, in order to enhance the performance of each element of the Core it has to work with the other three components.

One of the reasons that classic Kegels, which teach women to isolate the muscles that stop and start your urine flow, don’t work is due to the fact that this activity attempts to train the pelvic floor separate from its relationship with the rest of the Core team. In addition, women make a big mistake by holding their breath while practicing their Kegels. This eliminates the activity of the diaphragm, another component of the Core. Rather than enhance the activity of the pelvic floor through diaphragm teamwork, the pressure from above created by a breath hold actually fights the pelvic floor lift.

Reconnecting the movement of the diaphragm with the pelvic floor is one of the keys to a Kegel 2.0. When you inhale, the diaphragm lowers and the pelvic descends. When you exhale, the diaphragm lifts up and the pelvic floor rises back up to its resting position, usually lifting 2-3 cm. Understanding that the pelvic floor moves down and up with the rhythm of the diaphragm and tapping into this ebb and flow is critical to a healthy pelvic floor. Let’s apply this with a few easy steps:

Step 1: Get to know your diaphragm

Stand again in front of the mirror and take a deep breath. Watch your rib cage carefully as you inhale. Does your rib cage lift up and back into your upper chest? If yes, you are a chest breather. Or does your rib cage stay pretty still but your belly fills way up? If yes, you are a belly breather. Neither of these breathing processes are efficient or complete uses of the diaphragm. The rest of the Core (particularly the pelvic floor) relies on optimum use of the diaphragm to do their jobs well.

Both belly and chest breathers use the diaphragm in a way that only creates front to back movement of the rib cage or abdomen. But a diaphragm moving properly will cause the rib cage to open sideways as well. Let’s try it.

Step 2: Show your diaphragm who’s boss.

Stand in your ski jump position (a gentle diagonal shift forward from the ankles) and put your hands on your lower rib cage. Inhale and try to open your ribs into your hands, imagine you rib cage opening like an umbrella in your chest. Exhale slowly and gently as if you are blowing out through a straw, while you close your ribcage umbrella around your spine. Practice this a few times. {Note: it may not feel like a full breath. Chest breathers focus on closing your ribcage around your spine; belly breathers focus on opening to your ribcage into your hands.}

Step 3: What goes up, must come down!

Remain in your ski jump position. On your next umbrella inhale, think about allowing your pelvic floor to gently lower toward the floor. Don’t be afraid! The pelvic floor is supposed to do this, and it can’t go up if it doesn’t go down first. Begin your exhale through a straw. While exhaling, lift the pelvic floor up and in. Repeat this. Inhale, pelvic floor lowers, exhale through a straw, pelvic floor lifts. This relationship between the diaphragm and the pelvic floor will bring about a revolution in your ability to lift your pelvic floor higher and with greater strength.

Use this method when you squat down to pick up your baby, grocery bags, briefcase, etc. Before you lift, practice your exhale through a straw with a pelvic floor lift, then rise up with heavy object in arms. Use while waiting in line, changing diapers, doing dishes, and blow drying your hair as great opportunities to practice your Kegel 2.0.

Restoring the teamwork between the diaphragm and pelvic floor will be a huge upgrade in your Kegel.

Contact Julie Wiebe, PT with questions or comments at

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One thought on “Kegel 2.0 Part 2”

  1. Great post, I bet a lot of work and research went into this article.

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