The Great Debate: Squats vs. Kegels

There is not one exercise that is going to be THE exercise that you need to do, it’s about how you carry your body most of the time.  Exercise does not replace movement.
— Mama Aligned

Recently, Kegels versus squats has been a hot topic in the pelvic exercise realm (it's a thing). Some have even declared squatting as the “new Kegel.” Women everywhere are changing their prenatal exercise routine due to this hypotheses. Well, we at Chicagoland Doulas are here to put in our two cents and let you know: it’s actually a mixture of both that works. Your best bet: get a pelvic floor evaluation from an expert in person, and develop a strategy to fit your specific body.

Whether a woman should practice Kegel or squat is not only preference, but it depends on her pelvic floor strength, muscular control, & end goal. Both exercises are part of a movement program in which we use our body to increase its natural functionality. Both are exceptional in different scenarios for different women, and doing both at the same time only increases your benefits!


What is a Kegel?: A Kegel is the act of tightening and relaxing your pelvic floor muscles. The contraction is held for 10 seconds, relaxed for 10 seconds, and repeated four or five times. Hold the contraction for five seconds, and then relax for five seconds. Try it four or five times in a row. Work up to keeping the muscles contracted for 10 seconds at a time, relaxing for 10 seconds between contractions.

Who needs them? Those who suffer from urinary incontinence, stress or urge related, and those with pelvic floor weakness after childbirth. It can be hard to know if incontinence is due to pelvic floor weakness or tightness - get evaluated before starting Kegels. Doing any repetitive exercise too much will make muscles tighter, not more elastic. Elasticity is key!

When you need them most: After labor or if suffering from urinary incontinence due to some kinds of pelvic floor weakness


What is a Squat? A squat is the repeated motion lowering your lower body with your feet in a wide sumo squat position. Hold this position for 10 seconds and return to standing. Repeat 5 times. This motion activates your pelvic floor and core muscles while strengthening the booty. The most important part of the squat is alignment - untuck your “tail” and aim for vertical positioning of your shins. Try to relax your bottom while you are deep in the squat.

Who needs them?  When pregnant, squats are useful in strengthening muscles for an easier birth. Also useful during some parts of labor!

When you need them most: Before or during early labor. Short on time? Buy a Squatty Potty and do your business while adding beneficial structure to your alignment!

Really, in cases like this, we always suggest doing what is best for you - and please, talk to a physical therapist or pelvic floor expert before engaging in a routine. If you ever have any questions, we’re here to help. We know a lot of great experts, and we’re happy to put you in touch!

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