Comparative effects of selected abdominal and lower limb exercises in the recruitment of the pelvic floor muscles: Determining adjuncts to Kegel's exercises

J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2022 Jan:29:180-186. doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2021.09.009. Epub 2021 Sep 25.


Purpose: This study evaluated the electrical activities of the pelvic floor muscles in response to selected abdominal and hip adductor exercises, using the Kegel's maneuver as a gold standard, to compare the efficacies of these maneuvers in pelvic floor muscles recruitment to guide their informed utilization as adjuncts for Kegel's exercises.

Method: Twenty-one postpartum mothers with recent vaginal deliveries performed six trials, including the typical Kegel's exercise; two abdominal exercises (curl-up and abdominal hollowing); two hip adductor exercises (adductor ball squeeze and auto-resisted hip adduction); and a combination of abdominal, hip adductor and pelvic floor muscle contractions (combo). Pelvic floor muscles activities were monitored via surface electromyography during each 5-s trial. Data were analyzed with descriptive statistics and inferential statistics of one way ANOVA at p < 0.05.

Results: Generally, the pelvic floor muscles were statistically significantly (p < 0.001) most active during the combo trial, compared to other trials. Comparing the two abdominals, Kegel's and combo trials, pelvic floor muscles activity was least during the curl-up contraction (p < 0.001). On the other hand, Kegel's trial elicited the lowestpelvic floor muscles activity when compared with the combo and two adductor trials (p < 0.001).

Conclusion: Abdominal and hip adductor exercises are recommended adjuncts of Kegel's exercise but the combo maneuver was the most effective in activating the pelvic floor muscles.

Keywords: Abdominal exercises; Adjuncts; Electromyography; Hip adductor exercises; Kegel's exercise; Pelvic floor muscles.

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Muscles / physiology
  • Electromyography
  • Exercise Therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lower Extremity
  • Muscle Contraction* / physiology
  • Pelvic Floor*