Kegel exercises, or Kegels, are exercises that involve clenching and releasing your pelvic muscles to strengthen the pelvic floor. The pelvic floor supports the bladder, uterus, small instestine, and rectum.
Unlike other forms of exercise, you do not need any equipment. Neither do you need to see a doctor the first time you perform them.
Best of all, they will only take a few minutes of your day.
There are many benefits in doing Kegel exercises. The benefits of Kegel exercises are:
- Control of urine leakage
- The easing of fecal incontinence
- Improvement of symptoms related to pelvic organ prolapse – which make the walls of the vagina collapse and protrude, causing pelvic organs to assume a lower position
- Better sex because the blood going to the pelvic floor and the vagina circulates more. This is because Kegel exercises promotes vaginal lubrication and strengthens the pelvic floor muscles, which tighten during orgasm.
Pregnant women, and those planning to have a baby can enjoy the benefits of Kegel exercises by doing pelvic floor contractions that keep the pelvic area strong during and after childbirth.
How do you do Kegel exercises the right way?
To enjoy the benefits of Kegel exercises, the first thing to do is locate your pelvic floor muscles.
- Pretend you’re passing urine. Tighten the muscles you need to use to stop peeing. Do not practice holding your urine if your bladder is full. This will make your muscles weak and keep your bladder from fully emptying. It also raises your risk of having a urinary tract infection (UTI).
- Tighten the muscles you use in controlling your bowel movement or restrain yourself from passing gas. Do not tighten your buttocks, belly or inner thigh muscles. You must not lift your body.
- You can also do floor hip raises by lying down on mat and lifting your buttocks so that it’s aligned with your back. Make sure to keep your feet flat on the floor and knees steady.
- Totally let go of your pelvic floor muscles after contracting them. Do not move your tummy, leg, or butt because doing so means tapping the wrong muscles.
When you are already familiar with the movement, you can engage in Kegel exercises thrice a day.
To fully enjoy the benefits of Kegel exercises, you must:
- Be sure your bladder is empty, then sit or lie down.
- Contract your pelvic floor muscles. Hold up to the count of three, or five.
- Let go and count up to three or five.
- Do the exercises 10 times, thrice a day (in the morning, afternoon and evening).
- Inhale deeply and relax. Do not contract the muscles of your abdomen, thigh, buttocks, and chest.
To enjoy the benefits of Kegel exercises, you must remember not to:
- Engage in Kegel exercises while passing urine more than two times a month.
- Do the Kegel exercises wrong, or too intensely. It may contract the vaginal muscles too much and lead to painful sexual contact.
- Stop the exercises to prevent urinary incontinence from recurring.
- Be impatient. Urinary incontinence will not lessen immediately after doing Kegel exercises. You may have to wait several months to fully enjoy the benefits of Kegel exercises. But you may feel better or have less symptoms in four to six weeks.
When should you call or see the doctor?
You will need to contact a medical practitioner when:
- You cannot locate your pelvic floor muscles
- There is back or abdominal pain during exercise
- You doubt whether you are doing the contractions right
- There are issues about bowel, bladder, or sexual functions
- Your pelvic muscles ache
Your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist who specializes in pelvic floor exercises.
When can I do longer pelvic muscle contractions to fully enjoy the benefits of Kegel exercises?
You are ready for longer contractions that last six to 10 seconds each when:
- Your pelvic floor muscles do not feel tired after contracting for three to six seconds.
- Your pelvic floor muscles do not feel tired after 10 straight Kegel exercises.
Remember to ease your muscles for 10 seconds after each contraction. You must breathe when tightening your pelvic floor muscles.
What should you avoid to enjoy the benefits of Kegel exercises?
There are three common mistakes that keep women from enjoying the benefits of Kegel exercises.
- You are working on the wrong muscles. Put your hand over your belly. If your abdomen muscles are contracting, you are not doing it right. Neither are you on the right track when the cheeks of your buttocks tighten and slide off the chair.
- You are pushing, not squeezing your muscles.
- You are controlling your urine mid-stream. Choose more convenient times to perform Kegel exercises, like waiting in line at the grocery, lining up inside an elevator, or waiting for traffic to ease.
The benefits of Kegel exercises become more important as people get older. A study involving the elderly showed that the benefits of Kegel exercises involve reduced urinary incontinence and stronger pelvic muscles.
Kegel exercises also help people who have gained weight, gotten pregnant, and undergone gynecologic surgery (for females).
The benefits of Kegel exercises also help men recover from an operation on their prostate.
As long as the contractions are done right, the benefits of Kegel exercises will continue to help many have a better quality of life.
Learn more about women’s health, here.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.