What are Kegel Exercises?
Kegel exercises, also known as pelvic floor exercises, help keep the muscles that support the uterus, bladder, small intestine & rectum fit. They also help avoid bladder leaks and gas & stool leakage by accident.
Earlier, these exercises were recommended only for women to help strengthen pelvic muscles to cope with childbirth. However, the benefits of Kegel exercises go way beyond it. It is useful for both men & women, especially those who are elderly, have had surgery or are overweight as these factors can make pelvic floor muscles weaker.
What are the benefits of Kegel Exercises?Pelvic floor is an important muscle that needs work out as much as any other muscle in the body. There are numerous reasons why you should do Kegel exercises.
Benefits of Kegel exercises for women:
- Strengthen vaginal muscles in preparation for birth
- Help manage Urinary incontinence
- Help manage fecal incontinence
- Help manage Pelvic organ prolapse
Benefits of Kegel exercises for men:
- Help gain better control of the bladder & flow of urine
- Help manage fecal incontinence & gas
- Help manage overactive bladder
- Speed up recovery after surgical removal of prostate
- Reduce pain resulting from benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)
- Improve sexual health through greater control of ejaculation
How to perform Kegel Exercises?
• Identify the right muscles:
To rightly identify the pelvic floor muscles, stop urination midstream. Once identified, you can start perform the Kegel Exercises by contracting & relaxing the pelvic floor muscles.
Squeeze the muscles for 5 seconds & relax for 5 seconds. Perform 2 to 3 sets of 10 repetitions. Rest between each set to give muscles the time to recover. It is best to perform these exercises in three different positions : 10 repetitions lying down, 10 repetitions in seated position & 10 repetitions in standing position.
• Control the muscles:
It takes practice to gain control over your pelvic floor muscles. While performing these exercises pay attention only to this set of muscles & avoid using your abdominal muscles. Also, ensure that you keep your breathing steady.
To identify whether you are exercising the right muscles or not, sit in front of a mirror while performing these Kegel Exercises. If done correctly, there would be no movement in any other part of your body. That is nobody can tell when you are performing these exercises. If you are using the wrong muscles, your body is likely to move up & down slightly.
Things to remember when you perform Kegel Exercises:
- Do not hold your breath
- Do not push up, instead squeeze the muscles together as if you are trying to lift the muscle up
- Do not tighten muscles in your thighs, buttocks or stomach.
- Take short breaks to give your pelvic floor muscles the time to recover
How often should you perform Kegel exercises?
Initially you may not be able to perform more than 10 repetitions. But as you get better at it, you should be able to increase repetitions to 20 per set. Ideally, you should aim to perform 20-25 repetitions at least 3 to 4 times a day