Kegel exercises or pelvic floor exercises have been in use since 1948. For decades, doctors have praised Kegel exercises as an excellent tool to help with a number of pelvic health issues. And while the exercises were once mostly recommended to pregnant women, they are now considered important for all women and many men. In fact, pelvic floor exercises have become one of the primary methods of treatment for urinary and fecal incontinence, as well as for strengthening the pelvic muscles.
Because the pelvic muscles support the bladder and uterus, a weakening of those muscles can cause a multitude of problems. If you are experiencing urine leakage, for example, working on strengthening the pelvic muscles can solve the problem without the need for any additional treatment.
Kegel exercises are also very important for pregnant women. During pregnancy the pelvic floor muscles and connective tissue are stretched, which can lead to pelvic organ prolapse down the road. Weak pelvic floor muscles can also worsen urinary incontinence in pregnant women. After delivery, weak pelvic floor muscles can interfere with bladder, bowel and sexual functioning.
Avoiding a Common Mistake
Many women believe that the best way to do Kegel exercises is to practice stopping and releasing the flow of urine. This can done a few times as a test on whether you are contracting the correct muscles, but it should not be used as a regular form of Kegel exercise! In fact, regularly stopping the flow of urine can be dangerous and increase your chances of developing a urinary tract infection. It can also contribute to other urinary symptoms.
Proper Kegel Exercises Technique
The best way to learn how to do Kegel exercises is to talk to a trained professional. Dr. Grace has extensive experience in helping her patients train the pelvic floor muscles and she can guide you through a series of exercises. This way you can be sure you are performing the exercises correctly and making the most of each repetition.
Once you learn how to do Kegel exercises properly, you should then do them at home, on a daily basis.
Here’s a quick breakdown of how a Kegel exercise is performed:
- If you are able to stop the flow of urine, you are using the right pelvic floor muscles. Remember, use this only as a “muscle identification technique” once, and not as a regular form of exercise.
- To perform a proper Kegel exercise, start with an empty bladder and lie down on your back.
- Tighten the pelvic floor muscles (the same ones you used to stop the flow of urine). Keep the contraction for five to 10 seconds and then release. Repeat 5-10 times in a row.
One thing to keep in mind when doing Kegel exercises: You should only be tightening your pelvic floor muscles and nothing else. Your rear end, abdomen and thighs should remain relaxed. If you find yourself holding tension there, these muscles might be ‘taking over’ for your pelvic floor muscles.
Kegel exercises become more effective when you repeat them every day. Aim for at least three sets spread throughout the day and do 10-12 repetitions per set.
Dr. Grace can help you learn how to use Kegel exercises to treat a number of issues, including urinary incontinence, pelvic pain, urinary urgency and more. Whether you are pregnant or dealing with a pelvic issue that requires the help of a professional, Dr. Grace can provide a personalized approach to address the issues affecting you.