Hypertonic Pelvic Floor and Reverse Kegel Exercises

Pelvic Floor Health | | Nicole Lane
4 min read

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Causes | Symptoms | Explained | Reverse Kegels

Everyone’s heard of Kegel’s before but have you heard of reverse Kegels? We’re here to fill you in on how you can relax your muscles, rather than tightening them, and the benefits that your pelvic floor can reap from the simple exercise. 

The pelvic floor, also called “the core,” is made up of three main muscle sections: the levator ani muscles, coccygeus muscles, and muscular fascia. The pelvis is the home to the uterus, bladder, sigmoid colon, rectum, and vagina. 

When the pelvic floor is strengthened, bowel movements and urinating can function normally. But it’s also important to relax and lengthen the pelvis to prepare for childbirth as it helps you relax the tension in your muscles. 

Even men should consider Kegels or rever Kegels, as it helps them increase control over their muscles and can encourage more sexual strength and stamina, especially for men with erectile dysfunction. 

Combining regular Kegels with reversed Kegels can strengthen, lengthen, and relax these imperative muscles. So, let’s get into the basics. 

Weak Pelvic Floor Causes

While there may not be one clear reason for a weak pelvic floor or pelvic floor dysfunction, there are several common reasons that contribute to the condition. 

Reasons for a weak pelvic floor include:

  • Multiple childbirths
  • Perineal tearing
  • Reduced oestrogen causes weak muscles in menopausal women
  • Straining while using the restroom due to constipation
  • Hysterectomy
  • Heavy lifting during an exercise with incorrect posture. 
  • As we age, our pelvic muscles weaken 
  • Being overweight

Weak Pelvic Floor Symptoms

Painful sex, painful orgasms, urinary incontinence, lower pain back, and stress are all areas in which a weak pelvic floor can impact a person. 

For women who experience painful sex, also known as dyspareunia, or vaginismus, a condition where the muscles contract, pelvic floor training can relax an overactive pelvic floor to decrease tension.

In a 2022 INTIMINA survey, 5,083 women across the globe reported that 58% of them experienced stress incontinence and 43% experienced painful sex. Most of the women in the report were unaware that the pelvic floor dysfunction could be cured. 

Additional symptoms of a pelvic floor dysfunction include:

  • Passing wind when bending over
  • Passing wind when lifting something heavy
  • Vulval pain
  • Inability to orgasm
  • Recurrent urinary tract infections
  • A bulge at the vaginal opening

What Is a Hypertonic Pelvic Floor? 

A hypertonic pelvic floor is when your muscles are too tight and unable to relax. This could be due to excessive exercising, doing too many Kegels, holding in your bladder or bowel movements, stress, anxiety, abuse, trauma, birth trauma, or a previous surgery. 

Exercises for a hypertonic pelvic floor include:

  • Relaxation techniques
  • Breathing techniques
  • Abdominal massages
  • Using vaginal dilators
  • Pelvic stretches
  • Scar tissue massage techniques due to a previous surgery
  • Reverse Kegels

How To Do a Reverse Kegel

A reverse Kegel is something both men and women can practice if they have tight pelvic floor muscles or a hypertonic pelvic floor. While it can be done in various positions, sitting is the easiest way to situate yourself. 

Make sure you are familiar with your pelvic muscles by tensing them before practicing. To pulse the muscles, imagine you are trying to prevent yourself from urinating. 

  1. Sit in a position where you can feel your perineal tissues, AKA the area between the anus and vagina. 
  2. Begin with a regular Kegel. 
  3. With your hands on your stomach, breathe in deeply. When you breathe out, focus on relaxing the perineal tissue. Imagine you are passing a bowel movement or urinating. 
  4. Keep lengthening on every exhale.
  5. Do three sets of three reverse Kegels. 

A key component during reverse kegels is diaphragmatic breathing which is when the diaphragm lowers and the pelvic floor relaxes. Breathe in through your nose for four seconds, hold your breath for two seconds, and then exhale slowly for six seconds. 

Over time, you will be able to feel your perineal tissue connect with the chair after practicing reverse Kegels repeatedly. If you’d like even more of a stretch, do them while lying down and lift your hips as you breathe. The pelvic muscles will lengthen and the stretch will deepen. 

Safety First

Make sure to not overdo these exercises. Don’t push or strain your muscles any more than you need to. 

If you experience any pain or discomfort during Kegels or reverse Kegels, don’t continue the exercise. It may mean you aren’t doing the exercise properly or it may mean you need to chat with a doctor about other concerns. 

Since everyone’s body is different, everyone’s results will be different. Some people may notice a difference in a few weeks while others may take months to notice results. It’s best to visit a physical therapist and see what advice they have on further treatment or a diagnosis. 

Whether you’re experiencing incontinence or painful sex, reverse Kegels can be an exercise that you can implement to improve your muscles and aid in any frustrating pelvic concerns. 

Roll out your mat, or pull up a chair, and begin stretching and relaxing. 

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