Kegels IRL

Just telling” someone to do Kegels sucks.  

It’s true.   

But that doesn’t mean we don’t need them.

Do I have your attention?

Hi!  🙂 My name is Dr. Kelly Sadauckas. I am one of a handful of Doctors of Physical Therapy IN THE WORLD who are double board certified in Pelvic Health and Orthopedics.  Today, I’d like to deepen your understanding of Kegels by teaching you what they are, what they aren’t and when they are (& are NOT) useful.  Let’s begin!  

What are Kegels?

1. Definition of Kegels:

Kegels are the common name for a traditional concentric (which means muscles get shorter as they contract) activation of the pelvic floor muscles. 


Let’s sit down, and try a visualization of your pelvic floor muscles as a donut, or hand held in a gentle fist, right at the bottom of your bikini or Speedo area. 

At rest, the muscles are a medium donut or a relatively loose fist, just touching the bikini or Speedo. 

In a kegel, the pelvic muscles fire to tighten, shorten and elevate. 

  • The donut gets smaller and harder, and moves away from the surface of your chair.
  • The fist closes and moves upward, and back, toward your shoulder blades. 

That is a kegel.   The muscle worked harder, and got shorter and tighter.

For those of us with vaginas, it’s like we’re trying to stop the flow of pee..

For those of you with penises, it’s like you’re trying to lift the twig and berries up out of some COLD water!

But riddle me this, my friends…once you do this ‘kegel’…can you relax the pelvic muscles back to their resting ‘medium soft donut’ or ‘relaxed fist’ positions again?? 

More on that later…for now, it’s just food for thought.

2. Kegels In Real Life (IRL…get it??)

In real life, your amazing brain will decide how hard your pelvic muscles need to work at rest (how tight the fist or donut will be.  Spoiler alert, it should be mostly relaxed.  

Your brain should also automatically have access to a “dimmer or brighter switch” to adjust the pelvic muscle work level with daily activities.

With easy activities, (walking around the house, etc), the pelvic muscles should stay at their relaxed, resting tone (soft donut, soft fist). 

With harder activities, (jogging, carrying groceries, doing stairs), then brain should “brigthen” the activity of the pelvic muscles into some degree of a kegel (donut gets smaller and skinnier, fist clenches up a bit more).

But here’s the catch, those hard activities don’t last all day.  

When “the hard thing/work” is done, the brain ought to automatically “dim” the pelvic floor muscles back to their usual resting tone.  

When this doesn’t happen, the muscles stay tight all the damn time, and they get unhealthy, and weak and angry.  And…we eventually develop pee problems, poo problems, sex problems, etc.  🙁

3. Why “telling someone to do kegels” sucks

As I mention in many other posts (ad naseuam, some of you would argue), the main reason that people have pee, poop and sex problems is that their pelvic muscles are too tight. 

And good-intentioned, yet ill-advised medical practitioners (or aunts, or sisters, or strangers on the internet), might be ignorant, and assume that these problems are due to weakness. 

They might tell you to “just do kegels”, and not realize that your pelvic muscles/donut are ALWAYS in a fist, and ALWAYS kegeling…and that’s what is actually causing your pee, poop or seggsy time problems 🙁 🙁  

And telling you to “just do kegels” won’t help. It will actually (usually) make things worse.  Yikes.

So How do I fix my pelvic problem without “just kegels”?

  1. Learn about your body and your pelvic floor muscles from people with actual credentials. Pelvic Floor Physiotherapists, especially those Board Certified in Pelvic Health, are a gold standard, of course 🙂
  2. Check out other posts on this blog or website related to your pee, poop, or seggsy-time problem.  There’s also sections on pregnancy, push prep and postpartum.
  3. Try some started pelvic floor reeducation exercises, and learn how to connect to, and RELAX, your pelvic floor muscles.   

This blog post is “just the tip” of everything you’ll learn in The Pelvic Floored Universe, and I am so excited for you to understand (& be comfortable in) your body on a whole new level!

Thanks for Reading!

 XOXO -Dr. Kelly

An Image of Dr. Kelly, holding two pelvis models. Dr. Kelly is one of a handful of Doctors of Physical Therapy IN THE WORLD, who are double board certified in pelvic health & orthopedics. She's here to teach you everything you never knew about your pelvis.

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