Actually, I began suspecting the issue when I was doing some research about kegels. I learned that I had been doing kegels incorrectly. In fact, there is quite a bit of controversy about the effectiveness of kegels at all. In my eBook “Achieve A Strong Core In Just 15 Minutes A Day: The top 10 postpartum exercises” I describe the correct way to do kegels and the dangers of doing too many and/or incorrect kegels. To learn more about kegels I recommend the following articles and interviews by Alyce Adams, RN, BSN, known as “The Kegel Queen”: A radio interview, an article, a YouTube interview.
I appreciated my trip to the PT because I learned that kegels are actually simpler than I was making them out to be. Instead of trying to relax my anal muscles while contracting my vaginal muscles, which is what I was doing before my visit to the PT, I learned that the pelvic floor works as one and I need to contract the whole pelvic floor for each kegel. While engaging all the pelvic floor muscles, it is still important to leave the buttocks relaxed. I was putting too much energy into isolating what I thought were the correct muscles, when in fact it was preventing me from doing effective kegels. Now my kegels feel simpler and easier to do. My pelvic floor is quite strong, but the PT still assigned me to do several sets of kegels, and two different types of them each day.
Only after leaving her office did I do more research and find Katy Bowman’s informative articles and videos. I bought her DVD on pelvic health, so once I get that in the mail and take a good look at it I’ll post another entry about it. From my research so far I leaned that incorrect kegel technique, and doing too many kegels can lead to hypertonic pelvic floor (tight pelvic floor muscles). When the pelvic floor muscles tighten, such as when you do a kegel, they pull the sacrum (lower tail-bone) forwards, towards the pubic bone. This motion is also a result of long hours of sitting on chairs, tucking the pelvis in and incorrect posture.
Katy Bowman is a Biomechanist and a human physics scientist. In her YouTube video, “Pelvic Floor Demystified” she clearly explains the mechanics of the pelvis. So if your pelvic floor muscles are too tight and short, how can you fix this problem and stretch them? One of the best positions for lengthening the pelvic floor is the squat. Deep squats lengthen the pelvic muscles the most, however, if you have a prolapse, you should keep your squats shallow as well as keep your legs closer together, about a fist width apart (absolutely no more than hip width apart). Michelle Kenway specializes in physiotherapy and exercises for pelvic floor health. Here she shows how to do safe squats if you have a pelvic organ prolapse.
In this amazing article articles Katy Bowman guides readers in ways to prepare their joints and muscles to squat. She provides alternative stretches to lengthen the backs of your legs, as well as to un-tuck your buttocks, two essential steps to lengthening your pelvic floor muscles. She has a second, follow-up article with even more helpful guidance in squat-prepping exercises. I highly recommend both articles. I found that they both helped me loosen my tight calves, hamstrings, ankles, as well as helped me with my overall posture.
I’m supposed to see my PT one more time to follow up on my exercises. I will certainly present this question to her, “can it be that incorrect kegels tightened my pelvic muscles and led to the POP?” “Can it be that I should not do more kegels for now, and make sure that I don’t have a hypertonic pelvis?” But she did examine me and I assume she would have found that if it were true… Additionally, I have been squatting ever since my first pregnancy over eight years ago, and I feel quite comfortable in a squat. “Could my POP have been avoided?” I have a hard time believing that the answer is no. I also have a hard time believing that it is irreversible. According to the PT it can be slightly improved with kegels as my pelvic floor muscles tighten further, but now I’m afraid to continue with my exercises… hmmm, maybe it’s just that I did them incorrectly before.
For now I will continue with my kegel exercises and I have increased my squatting each day as well. But another question I have is, do low squats put too much pressure on the pelvic floor if I already have POP? Should I only do shallow/high squats? Surfing the net can be so confusing. I will continue on my search for the correct information and I will get back to you as soon as I do. Sometimes we think we’ll have the answer, but we only end up with more questions. I guess patience is the key, as I often tell my children.
If you would like to read some of my follow-up answers on this post, check out my article, "Keggels, Pelvic Organ Prolapse, and My Pelvic Floor… Continued".