Recently, I have been noticing more people hopping on the squatting bandwagon. The idea is that even though we have been encouraged to do kegels for generations, they actually aren't good for us. The idea is that squatting actually does what kegels only claim to do. So which is actually better? Squats or kegels?
The reason we do pelvic floor exercises is to strengthen our pelvic floor muscles and hopefully prevent incontinence later on. They are also encouraged for pregnant women to tone the pelvic floor for birth. Let's look at what each exercise does and how it affects the pelvic floor.
Kegels tighten and tone our pelvic floor muscles. We are told to squeeze all of our pelvic floor muscles to the point of stopping urine. But is toning really what our pelvic floor muscles need? Think about the difference between a body builder vs. a ballerina. Body builders are all about bulking up and toning, whereas ballerinas are all about strengthening and lengthening. Body builders have over toned their muscles, and as a result have very little flexibility. Ballerinas have focused more on strength and flexibility. Kegels are like body building for your pelvic floor. Do too many of them and you wind up with an over toned, tight pelvic floor.
Squats help to lengthen the pelvic floor, and can also help to tone your glutes, another important factor in pelvic floor fitness. Working on your glutes can help to relieve some low back issues that may be caused by squeezing your pelvic floor muscles during a kegel. They help to tone and relax the pelvic floor at the same time. They help you to get that length and strength like the ballerina in my metaphor. For all the pregnant mamas out there, it is also a good idea to practice your squatting, so that you have the strength to use a squat for longer when giving birth.
So which is better? The new research suggests that squats are better overall. This doesn't mean that kegels are bad. They are often done incorrectly. Squeezing hard and tucking your pelvis is not a correctly performed kegel exercise. Here is a post that talks about how to correctly do kegel exercises.
If you have been doing your 100 or more kegels a day religiously, you can absolutely cut back. Try decreasing the number of kegels that you are doing and adding in some squats throughout the day.
Just like it is important to do your kegels correctly, it is important to do your squats correctly. Here is an article that talks about proper alignment in a squat and gives more information on pelvic floor health.
If you want more information about this topic, read some of the literature by Katy Bowman. She is the one who pretty much started the movement from kegels to squats. Here is a blog with an interview with Katy that you might enjoy.
Meet the Author
Amanda Tarver, (LMT, CEIM, PES, RMT) is a massage therapist and birth worker in the Chicago area. She is dedicated to using a combination of bodywork and education to help people live a better quality of life.