Kegel Exercises: How To Go About Them?
Updated: Aug 29, 2022
You’ve probably heard the word ‘Kegels’ before and perhaps you have also been told that you need to start doing them like yesterday at every chance you get.
But what do the exercises really help with?
Kegel exercises mainly work on the pelvic floor muscles that support the womb, bladder, and bowels. If the muscles are weak, the pelvic organ may be lower into the vagina. There are many factors that can weaken the pelvic floor for women, which include pregnancy, childbirth, ageing, and even weight gain. Kegel exercises can be either greatly beneficial or potentially damaging if not done properly. Research shows that over one-third of women and men who do Kegels don’t reap the benefits of the exercises. Instead, they are actually working their abdominal, buttock, or inner thigh muscles!
In this blog post, we will cover all the basics to kick-start you in the right direction before you start doing them.
What are Kegel exercises anyway?
Kegel exercises (also called pelvic floor exercises) are simple clench-and-release exercises that you can do to make the muscles of your pelvic floor stronger. The pelvic floor can be described as a series of muscles and tissues that forms a sling at the bottom of your pelvis. This sling holds your organs in place. A weak pelvic floor may lead to issues such as the inability to control your bowels or bladder. Did you know that Kegels may even help to improve your orgasms? Oh YES!
Now that we have your attention, let’s understand what more they can do for you.
Why do Kegel exercises matter?
No one wants a weak pelvic floor. But some factors make it almost impossible to avoid a weak pelvic floor such as pregnancy, childbirth, surgery, ageing, excessive straining from constipation or chronic coughing and sometimes being overweight.
You may benefit from Kegels if:
You are pregnant or after childbirth
Leak a few drops of urine while sneezing, laughing or coughing (stress incontinence)
Have a strong, sudden urge to urinate just before losing a large amount of urine (urinary urge incontinence)
Leak stool (faecal incontinence)
When should I do Kegels?
Remember those things you might have heard of doing Kegels all the time? Well, there’s some truth to that. The trick is to make it a part of your routine. Kegel exercises can be done discreetly wherever you are be it on your morning commute or relaxing on your couch.
Now onto the million-dollar question…
How to do Kegel exercises?
Here’s how to get started:
Identify the right muscles. To find your pelvic floor muscles, stop urination in midstream. Once you've identified your pelvic floor muscles you can do the exercises in any position, although you might find it easiest to do them lying down at first.
Work on your technique. Try to imagine you are sitting on a marble and tighten your pelvic muscles as if you're lifting the marble. Try it for three seconds at a time, then relax for a count of three.
Focus. For optimum results, focus on tightening only your pelvic floor muscles. Be careful not to flex the muscles in your abdomen, thighs or buttocks. Avoid holding your breath. Instead, breathe freely during the exercises.
Repeat three times a day. Aim for at least three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions a day.
Contrary to popular belief, don't make a habit of using Kegel exercises to start and stop your urine stream. Doing Kegel exercises while emptying your bladder can actually lead to incomplete emptying of the bladder — which increases the risk of a urinary tract infection.
Once you start to feel pain in your abdomen or back after a Kegel exercise session, it’s a sign that you’re not doing them correctly. Keep in mind that, even as you contract your pelvic floor muscles, the muscles in your abdomen, back, buttocks, and sides should remain loose always. Another thing is don’t overdo it. Quality over quantity! As exciting as it might be to strengthen your pelvic floor whether it’s for health reasons or orgasms. If you overwork the muscles, they’ll become tired and unable to fulfil their necessary functions.
How soon to expect results?
With regular Kegel exercise, you can expect some changes and results such as less frequent urine leakage within a few weeks or months. To see continued and consistent benefits be sure to make it a part of your daily routine.
Kegel exercises offer many benefits and the best part is you do not have to be going through something specific to do Kegel exercises. You can try them both for health reasons or to improve your sex life. Just be mindful of two things - you need to get the technique right by targeting the correct muscles and secondly, don’t overdo it. It’s easier if you make it a part of your routine that way you know can look forward to results sooner.
Stay informed, stay in control. Are you now more informed about Kegel exercises?