Kegel exercises, also called pelvic floor exercises or or pelvic muscle rehabilitation are exercises that help strengthen your pelvic muscles to prevent accidental urine leakage. To better describe the muscles involved, they are the ones used during urination and sexual intercourse.
Kegel exercises for women are recommended for bladder control problems (urinary incontinence) due to pregnancy, stress or uterine prolapse.
Many women start experiencing problems with bladder control during pregnancy and after delivery. During that time, the pelvic floor can become stretched and weakened, often resulting in urine control problems that can last months or even years after giving birth.
If you are pregnant, start doing daily exercises of your pelvic muscles, and keep doing them after having your baby.
Pelvic floor exercises are easy to do and can be done any time without anyone even noticing what you are doing. For comfort you may choose to do these exercises while lying down, which will help you focus on what you are doing better.
While sitting or lying down, try to contract the muscles you would use to stop urinating. You should feel your pelvic muscles squeezing your urethra and anus.
How do you find the pelvic floor muscles?
If your stomach or buttocks muscles tighten, you are not exercising the right muscles. For women who have difficulty isolating the pelvic muscle group, I recommend you try this exercise in the bathroom while urinating.
To urinate, you must relax the muscles of the pelvic floor. If you were to STOP the flow of urine, those muscles need to be tightened. A feeling of “pulling up and in” will accompany this act, and you will feel the rectum and the vagina pull up and in while stopping the flow. To start the flow again, just relax the muscles. You will feel the rectum and vagina return to a resting state as you do this.
Another way to find the right muscle, is to sit on the toilet, place one finger in the vagina and contract that muscle around you finger.
Make sure your stomach, buttocks and inner leg muscles all stay relaxed during pelvic floor exercises. Don’t strain or bear down. The only muscles contracting or moving should be your pelvic floor.
How do you perform pelvic floor exercises?
Once you’ve identified the right muscles, squeeze for 3 seconds and then relax for 3 seconds.
Start with as many repetitions as you can tolerate. Progress slowly by gradually increasing the number of repetitions or the length of your long holds aiming at 10 to 15 times per session. Try to do this at least 3 times a day.
Some sources will suggest doing sets of 100 Kegels; however, that’s not necessary. Doing sets of 10-15 is sufficient, but we should do several sets every day. You can monitor your progress by stopping the flow of urine.
Also, practice coordinating contraction of these muscles with an event in which you may be prone to leak urine such as coughing, sneezing, laughing, lifting a heavy object, etc. For example, when you sense a sneeze or cough coming, squeeze your pelvic floor to support your bladder.
Be patient. Don’t give up. It’s just 5 minutes, three times a day. Kegel exercises are only effective when done regularly. The more you exercise, the more likely it is that the exercises will help. You may not feel your bladder control improve until after 3 to 6 weeks. Still, most women do notice an improvement after a few weeks.
How Long Do I Have To Do The Kegel Exercises?
Once you have achieved your goal, you can do the exercises for five minutes three times a week. If you start having problems again with incontinence, you may need to go back to five minutes two times a day.
Common mistakes during pelvic muscle exercises?
The most common mistake women make when doing pelvic muscle exercise is to strain down instead of drawing the muscles up and in. Try doing this on purpose once so you can feel what NOT to do: take a breath, hold it, and push down with your abdomen. You can feel a pushing out around your vagina.
To keep from straining down when you do a pelvic muscle contraction: exhale gently and keep your mouth open each time you tighten your muscles. Don’t hold your breath during pelvic floor exercises. Try breathing out as you squeeze your pelvic muscles. Rest a hand lightly on your abdomen. If you feel your stomach pushing out against your hand, you are straining down. Try these exercises when urinating to stop the flow as described above.
How to do Kegel or pelvic floor exercises
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