Elaine Miller is a pelvic floor physiotherapist and stand up comedian - not a combination you see every day! Since qualifying as a physio in 1993 she has worked at her practice in Edinburgh while also touring the world to educate people on pelvic health in a way that's friendly, accessible and hilarious.
As a friend of Kegel8 she has told us her top 16 kegel rules. They're easy to follow and will give you a chuckle while helping you protect your pelvic floor!
1 Kegels - the same as holding a fart in!
The action of working your pelvic floor is the same as when you try really, really hard to hold in a fart! Don’t hold your breath, don’t squeeze your buttocks or thighs, just imagine you are squeezing your bumhole shut and lifting it up.
2 Types of contraction
There are two types of contraction - one for strength and one for speed. A strong but badly coordinated pelvic floor can be problematic. So aim to hold for 10 and then do 10 quick flicks.
3 'Like skiing in the snowplough position...'
To stop you from cheating and using your buttocks, try lying on your tummy with one leg bent out to the side. Try standing with your toes turned in and knees bent, like you are skiing in the snowplough position.
4 Breathe in, sigh out
Take a deep breath in, sigh out, squeeze and lift. A Kegel8 Pelvic Floor Toner can help you do this more effectively - click to find out which one's best for your needs.
5 Don't get constipated!
The best thing you can do for your pelvic floor is to avoid getting constipated. Not ever! Drink water, exercise, eat fruit and veg and don’t strain.
6 Sigh, hiss, moo...
If pooing is tricky raise your feet, sigh or hiss or moo out to stop you from straining, lean forwards and take your time. A toilet stool like the Squatty Potty is ideal for doing this.
7 Use 'the knack'
To help with leaking when you laugh/cough/sneeze use The Knack. Get into the habit of squeezing and lifting your pelvic floor before you do anything that makes you leak.
8 Squeeze & lift
Squeeze and lift before you lift heavy objects; for example when you empty the washing machine, push a lawnmower, push a shopping trolley or lift a child.
9 Protect your undercarriage!
Being the right weight for your height will help your pelvic floor. But be careful which exercises you choose to do! Some are less pelvic floor friendly than others - running, lifting weights, rowing machines and high impact aerobics might be too stressful for your undercarriage to cope with.
10 Don't stop the flow
Don’t try to stop the flow of urine as an exercise for your pelvic floor. We used to teach that, but it can cause UTIs. Doing it once a week to see your progress is ok, but not more than that.
11 Twitch your twinkle
Compliance is key - you can buy gadgets or see a physio, but unless you actually use them or follow the advice you’ll not get anywhere. Set an alarm on your phone, get into the habit of doing them in the morning or before you go to bed, get an app and follow me on Twitter at @gussiegrips - “When I tweet, you twitch your twinkle!”
12 You're not alone
It’s vital you understand you are not alone. 1 in 3 women leak and most can be helped, if not cured. So don’t put up with it! See a physio, follow the advice, doyerblardyexercises!!!
13 Avoid! Avoid! Avoid!
Avoid caffeine, citrus, fizzy drinks and alcohol - they are all bladder irritants. Sorry.
14 All about the h20
Drink lots - aim for 1.5-2l/day. If your pee is yellow or orange, you are dehydrated. Concentrated urine is a bladder irritant, so drink more water until you are weeing clear or straw coloured pee.
15 Stronger orgasms!
If you are looking for motivation to start to look after your pelvic floor, then remember that a strong pelvic floor means stronger orgasms. True!
16 Quick flicks
You need to do the exercises (hold for 10, 10 quick flicks) every day. Three times a day is ideal. Make it a habit; try doing them when you brush your teeth, wash dishes, wait for a bus - whatever helps you to remember.