On Kegels and Crunches

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Kegels and crunches are intimately related to eachother. There are some interesting places in the body where two muscles are continuous in a way that make them appear as if they are one muscle, even if the image might seem to be a bit of a stretch. The kegels muscle, the levator ani and the crunches muscle rectus abdominis fit this bill.

In yoga mula bandha, the yoga concept also known as the root lock, and uddiyana bandha, otherwise known as upward lifting lock, are the same muscles as kegels and crunches and these two actions most often follow one another and are employed together. I have no problem imagining these two muscles as one muscle that just happen to have a small bone between them.

Kegels & crunches refer to pelvic lift excercises and a variation on sit ups. The levator ani (which is actually three muscles in a group) connects the tail bone to the pubic bone. The rectus abdominis is your crunches or sit-ups muscle that connects the pubic bone to the base of the rib cage. Kegels and crunches are connected in that you want to feel the rectus abdominis engage gently following the tone of the levator ani when doing a kegel. It isn’t actually a crunch but the muscle should engage slightly.

The issue for me is that far too often people have way more available tone in the rectus abdominis than in the levator ani and as a result they lack balance. The rectus abdominis tends to fire first and does most of the heavy lifting, if the levator ani fires at all. We would like to feel that they can engage with equal ease when we want them to.

Building a better body is all about developing balance in all of our muscle groups. Some muscles oppose each other and some work together but they all need balanced tone to perform whatever action is required of them.

Kegels, or pelvic lifts, are an essential exercise when done correctly and learning to distinguish between the muscles that are working well and muscles that might act as bullies taking over all responsibilities is a large part of developing a body that will age well into the future.

A levator ani muscle group that works in concert with the rectus abdominis as designed can help with posture, incontinence, and even your sex life. Understanding the differences and the teamwork involved with kegels and crunches can make for a well-functioning body.


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