Kegel exercises keep your pelvic floor healthy and in shape. But what is your pelvic floor? How can you strengthen it? What are Kegel exercises and how can they help? All of these questions and more will be answered in this article.
What is your pelvic floor?
Your pelvic floor is made up of muscles that fold and drape over each other, around the openings at the base of the pelvis. Men have two opening and women have three. It looks something like a layered hammock stretching from the pubic bones to your tailbone and between the side bones.
The pelvic floor has four main functions and its most important job is supporting the pelvic organs such as the uterus, bladder, small intestines, bowels and rectum.
As with all muscles, they can become stretched or out of shape, cause some embarrassing accidents such as bladder leakage, uncontrollable gas or even accidently soiling yourself with stool, plus it can cause sexual dysfunction.
As we age, these muscles begin to droop or sag downwards. It is most common in women who have been pregnant or had a hysterectomy. Men and women can both suffer from this condition due to genetics, frequent coughing, laughing for prolonged periods, weight gain or even sneezing, as it applies pressure on the pelvic organs pushing them downwards.
What are Kegel exercises and how to they help?
Kegel exercises are simple exercises that involve clenching and releasing your pelvic muscles. They can be performed anytime and anywhere – in the privacy and comfort of your home or while standing in line at the grocery store.
Before performing Kegel exercises, it is important to identify your pelvic muscles. It can be tricky at first, but once you identify them you can start working out.
Women: Try and locate the pelvic muscles by trying to stop urinating mid-flow. The muscles used in this action are your pelvic muscles. Repeat several times until you can control when they contract and relax.
Men: We are sure that you guys out there are going to laugh at how to identify your pelvic muscles. Tense up the muscles that prevent you from passing gas. Once you have identified these muscles, release. Practice every time you need to pass gas until you can control the muscles.
How to do Kegel exercises?
Make sure you always perform the following exercise with an empty bladder. In the beginning, you will want to do this in the privacy of your own home, but once you have mastered them, you will find yourself doing them everywhere.
- Start by sitting or lying flat on your back, on a mat with your legs slightly bent.
- Tense the muscles in the pelvic floor, count to three and release and relax for three counts. Repeat 10 times.
- Practice daily until you can do three sets of ten each day.
As with all muscles, it will take time to see results. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see results as quickly as you would like. If you are suffering from urinary incontinence, expect three months for improvement.
If you feel pain, then you are not performing them correctly. You should only be contracting your pelvic muscles; abdomen, back, buttocks and your sides should be relaxed.