What are Kegel Exercises?
Kegel exercises, also known as pelvic floor exercises, are moves that benefit the pelvic floor muscles. These exercises strengthen and bolster the muscles that support body parts such as bladder, small intestine, uterus, urethra and rectum.
Kegel exercises are quite easy to do and require the use (contraction and release) of the right muscle to achieve the desired results.
Benefits of Kegel Exercises
Kegel exercises make the pelvic area stronger without the need for surgery. Doctors often recommend kegel exercises as the first step to deal with problems of a leaky bladder. You can do these exercises anytime and they don't require any equipment though kegel exercise balls are available to help with the process. In essence kegel exercises are low-cost, easy-to-do and quite effective to strengthen the muscles in the pelvic region.
Kegel exercises during pregnancy ease labor and help women achieve greater bladder control. Post-pregnancy kegel exercises can help women regain their strength in the pelvic area, strengthen their bladder and heal their perineum.
Kegel Exercises for Women
Kegel exercises for women can greatly help them during and after childbirth. These exercises could also prove helpful for women who find it difficult to reach orgasm. Urine incontinence can take many forms - the sudden urge to urinate, urine leakage during laughter, sneezes or bouts of cough, overactive bladder, which is a consequence of either bladder infections or chronic diseases like diabetes, multiple sclerosis or Parkinson's disease. Women should consult their doctor before starting a kegel exercise routine.
Kegel Exercises for Men
Kegel exercises can also help men who suffer from urine or fecal incontinence and those who face the problem of dribbling after urination. Men can experience a weakening of their pelvic floor muscles due to diseases like diabetes or surgeries for prostate removal. There is no definite research in this area but some studies say that pelvic exercises can help men with erectile dysfunction. Men should consult their doctor before they begin to do kegel exercises.
Finding the Muscle for the Kegel Exercise
Women and men can locate the right muscle to work during kegel exercises if they stop the flow of urine midstream. If you can do this then you know the muscle you need to use during the kegel exercises. You can also try to squeeze the muscles you would use if trying to stop gas from passing from the anus.
Women can also locate the right muscle by inserting a finger in their vagina and squeezing it. When you can feel the pressure around your finger, then you can be sure that you are using the right muscles. It is recommended that you lie down when doing this.
Correct way to do Kegel Exercises
You need to have an empty bladder before you begin the exercises. Now contract the muscle you have correctly identified for five counts and then relax the muscles for five counts. Repeat a few times. Gradually try to contract the muscles for 10 counts. For best results do three sets with 10-15 repetitions in a day.
Once you are comfortable with the exercises, do them in different positions - sit, stand and lie down when doing your kegel exercises for best results.
Make sure to not squeeze other muscles while doing your kegel exercises. If you find yourself squeezing your abdomen muscles or other muscles then immediately stop and try again. This puts additional pressure on the bladder and might end up doing more harm than good to your pelvic muscles.
Also, avoid the urge to overdo kegel exercises. Since these can be done anytime and anywhere and are also easy to do it might be tempting to do them more than three times in a day and do more repetitions than recommended. But this is not ideal.
Be patient with the process even if you don't immediately see an improvement in your condition.
In case you experience any discomfort while doing kegel exercises, immediately consult your doctor.
If you feel stressed while doing the exercises try doing them with some soothing music.
It helps to keep a record of these exercises for observation purposes and to show to your doctor. This way you can know if you need to add more repetitions or to keep your motivation levels high.
Try to find a quiet spot to do these exercises whenever you can. Focusing on the muscles can enhance the results of the exercises and can also help you use the right muscles.