What Are Kegel Exercises and How to do Kegel Exercises?

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Kegel exercises are exercises that work to strengthen muscles of the pelvic floor. It’s the pelvic floor that supports bladder, uterus, rectum and small intestine. If you are suffering from urinary incontinence, these exercises would be really helpful. As Kegel exercises strengthen bladder, these can go a long way in preventing risks of urinary incontinence. It’s to note here kegel exercises were first propounded by famous American gynecologist Dr. A H. Kegel in 1940s to prevent leaking urine in women. Kegel exercises can also help men suffering from the same issue.

When do you need to do Kegel exercises?

Kegel exercises are important for those who are down with a weak pelvic floor. Your pelvic muscles can weaken due to a broad range of factors such as childbirth, pregnancy, aging, surgery and overweight. Moreover, excessive body strain from coughing or constipation can also weaken the pelvic floor.

You will need to follow Kegel workout if you-

  • Can’t control urine leakage (just few drops) while coughing, sneezing or laughing
  • Get this sudden and strong urge to pee just after urination
  • Stool leakage

How to identify right muscle

Finding the muscle in women

It will be slightly challenging to find pelvic floor muscles but not too tough. First, you can insert your finger inside vagina & then tighten up the surrounding muscles around the finger. Just make sure, your finger is properly cleaned.

Another way to identify the muscle is by stopping the urine mid-flow. Remember, the muscle that you will clench for stopping the urine is the pelvic-floor muscle.

However, you should not follow the method for locating the muscle only. Don’t just stop urine mid-way frequently or regularly. You should not do it especially when your bladder is full as otherwise you may end up with UTI (Urinary Tract Infection).

Finding the muscle in men

One way men can find the muscle is by inserting finger into their rectum. After you insert the finger, try squeezing it and you will find the muscles of pelvic floor. But while doing this, do not tighten muscles of buttocks, thighs or abdomen.

Then, another hack is to tighten the muscles which keep one from passing gas.

If you still can’t locate the muscle, try the urine stopping method discussed in the previous section.

Understanding Kegel exercises

Kegel exercises are simple clench-and-relax workouts which you can perform anytime and anywhere. There are two forms of exercises for complete workout of the pelvic floor-

Fast-twitch muscle workout– This is mostly a sort of sort contraction which works your fast-twitch muscles which shut off sudden urine flow immediately to prevent issues of leakage. While performing the exercise, you will contract each time you will exhale and then go back to your normal breathing pattern. When you contract the muscles, they get tighten quickly, lifted up & slowly released.

Slow-twitch muscle workout– It helps to strengthen supportive power of pelvic floor muscles through long contraction. When you perform the contraction, they get tighten quickly, lifted up & being help up for seconds. Initially, you will find it challenging to hold contraction for more than couple of seconds- but as you get used to it, you can hold it for 10 seconds. A 10 second rest is also needed in between every long contraction. The rest is needed to bypass strain on your muscles.

Let’s do the exercise

Choose the right position

You can perform Kegel exercises while laying on your back or while standing or sitting. But since you are starting out, you will begin the exercise while laying back. When you will get used to the workout, then you will be able to try the other two postures.

Contract & relax

  • Short contraction

Contract the muscles of pelvic floor for 3-5 seconds

Relax for the same time limit

Repeat the exercise 10x thrice a day

  • Long contraction

Contract the muscles of pelvic floor for 5-10 seconds

Relax for the same time limit

Repeat the exercise 10x thrice a day

Don’t stress on other muscles

When you are doing Kegel exercises, your focus should be primarily on the muscles of pelvic floor. Make sure, you do not contract the leg, buttock or abdominal muscles while performing the exercise. Experts advise to keep one of the palms on belly to identify unwanted abdominal actions.

Start small

You will start with shorter time-periods and then gradually move on to longer periods. For shorter contractions, start with 3 and then  move to 5 seconds once you are habituated with it. In regards to long contractions, start with 3-5 and then graduate to 10 seconds.

Aim for 30-40 Kegels

Your aim should be to perform minimum 30-40 Kegel exercises every day. However, don’t just perform all the sets at once as it will place excessive stress on pelvic floor. It’s better you distribute your exercise routine all across the day.

Benefits of Kegel exercises

  • Control on stress incontinence

Kegel exercises enable one to keep control on stress continence that otherwise leads to spontaneous urine discharge with sudden increase of abdominal pressure.

  • Prevents urine incontinence post childbirth

Pelvic muscles in women tend to stretch & weaken in times of childbirth. It leads to unwanted muscle sag and urinary incontinence. Kegel exercises work to strengthen the muscles of pelvic which rectifies the sagging issue and prevents urinary incontinence after childbirth.

  • Improved sex life in women

Kegel exercises also work to enhance sex life in women by improving their sexual health. These workouts enhance blood circulation into vagina and keep the organ in its best form. You will benefit from

  • more relaxed and flexible vagina which can prevent pain in times of intercourse
  • enhanced sexual arousal
  • Increased chances of orgasm
  • increased lubrication in vagina

Signs of stronger pelvic floor:

  • Longer time in between bathroom visits
  • Greater ability to hold longer contractions & perform more repetitions
  • Fewer toilet mishaps
  • Drier underwear
  • Less frequency of feeling wet

You can’t expect to see overnight results with Kegel exercises. It’s a slow but steady process and within 2-3 months you will definitely notice visible improvements.