Squats vs Kegels
You’ve probably been hearing a lot of buzz about the squat. And many have been touting it as the go-to thing to do for pelvic floor health. The more squats you do, the stronger your pelvic floor, right? It used to be the kegel, and still is in many circles. You’re pregnant? Don’t forget your pelvic floor! 100 kegels a day for you! And you! And you!
Now it’s the squat. Squat a lot and you’ll have an easier birth and a stronger pelvic floor. That’s what they say. And I’m here to call BS.
But wait… Lindsay… I thought you loved the squat?
Oh, I do, I even have a shirt that says “I ❤ squats.”
I’m a squat lover FOR. SURE. But I think that it’s so easy for us to take a very small piece of the huge picture and boil it down to one thing: squats=strong pelvic floor. Have urinary incontinence? Squat more. Want to have an easier birth? Squat. Want to strengthen your pelvic floor for whatever reason? Squat. People really *are* handing out the squat exercise prescription like it’s the new kegel. And SQUATTING IS NOT THE NEW KEGEL. The kegel isn’t the new kegel either. Squatting is one part of a whole body movement program and a systematic re-learning of how to use your body in ways that optimize birthing space, functionality, well-being and minimize: pain and disease.
“Squat vs Kegel” is NOT the question we should be asking.
There is not one exercise that is going to be THE exercise that you need to do. It’s not about the kegel OR the squat. It is about how all the parts of our body work together to support our system. Our pelvic floor, core, diaphragm (how we breathe) are all pieces to the pelvic floor puzzle and that means there is not going to be one exercise that magically fixes/protects/strengthens the pelvic floor. Getting your whole body to work together is not only going to help your pelvic floor, it’s going to also help your core, your back, maybe even your bum knee that you didn’t think was related (it probably is).. A whole body movement program is much more than just spot treating your pelvic floor, it is treating your pelvicfloor as an essential component to your inner core system and body.
Squatting is one piece of the puzzle. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an important piece. But if you’ve ever done a puzzle, you have to build the edges first (at least that is what my grandma always taught me). If most of the time you are sitting. With a tucked pelvis. And thrusted ribs. Then I can promise you this: doing 50 squats a day isn’t going to do what you think it’s going to do. And you are not going to be able to do the squats like you think you are doing them. Don’t get me wrong, I am all about doing something is better than doing nothing, but if you’re lazy like me (or really, I’m just efficient because I don’t want to do something unless it’s actually worth my time) and want the most bang for your buck, you might as well get the most out of every squat you do!
A squat is not about the squat, itself, but the strength and the range of motion/length of the muscles that we need to get into an aligned squat and the strength that holding this squat will build. Here are some pointers:
1. Prepare your body for squatting.
Join our Free Facebook Group for loads of free videos and discussion on squat preparation. When our bodies are prepared, they are able to squat more freely, naturally, and we are able to get the most out of our squats. It’s not as simple as ‘just start squatting.’
2. Get a squatty potty
This is going to get you into a squat as often as you go to the bathroom. Use it for both #1 and #2 (I’ve had that question so feel the need to clarify). This is a great way for your body to find the range of motion of a squat while eliminating. This is how we are designed to eliminate. In my opinion, the porcelain throne is a huge contributor to the vast amount of people in our western society with pelvic floor issues. Statistically, we have a lot less babies, yet a lot more pelvic floor disorders. There are also so many people with pelvic issues that have not given birth.
3. Every time you get up from sitting, try to use vertical shins!
How many times a day do you have to get up? Probably a lot. Every time, see if you can engage your posterior leg muscles by not allowing your knees to go past your ankles. You have to get up anyway, right? So might as well get this added benefit, right?
4. If you are pregnant
Learn about your core, pregnant belly alignment, and your pelvic floor. And of course – make sure you do exercise classes that focus on pelvic floor and core for pregnant women. Your body will thank you during birth and beyond.
5. And squat, too.
I’m not anti-squat and I hope this post didn’t come off that way. I am just anti-ONLY squatting and not doing anything else.