Kegel exercises strengthen the pelvic floor muscles which help reduce or prevent urinary incontinence. Following is step-by-step instructions on how to perform Kegel exercises the right way.
Kegel Exercise Instructions and Facts: Based on the Mayo Clinic Staff
Your pelvic floor muscles support your uterus, small intestine, bladder, and the rectum. Doing Kegel exercises strengthens your pelvic muscles to improve support and control. Kegel exercises are easy to do and require no equipment, though you can use ben wa balls, if you choose. You can do your pelvic floor exercises anywhere and at any time of the day.
Let’s first review what Kegel exercises can do for you, and then follow-up with instructions on how to perform the exercises properly.
Why Kegel Exercises May Be Important For You
A woman’s pelvic floor muscles can be weakened by many things these include pregnancy, childbirth, getting older, surgery, coughing, obesity, and even straining too hard during bowel movements. Kegel exercises can strengthen the muscles that were weakened by these causes.
Who Can Benefit From Kegel Exercises?
Do you occasionally leak a few drops of urine when you laugh, cough, or sneeze? Stress incontinence can be reduced with Kegel exercises.
Do you sometimes feel a strong need to urinate and then lose a large volume of urine? Kegel exercises can reduce urinary urge incontinence.
Kegel exercises can reduce fecal incontinence, aka leaky stools.
Are you pregnant, or just gave birth? Kegel exercises can keep your pelvic floor in shape, reduce leaking, and help you recover more rapidly after birth.
If you have severe leakage when you sneeze, cough, or laugh, Kegel exercises may give some relief, but will not eliminate the issue. Kegel exercises are less helpful for women who experience leakage from a full bladder, overflow incontinence, also.
How To Perform Your Kegel Exercises
First, you need to identify the right muscles. The easiest way to feel the muscles is to try to stop your urine flow when you go to the bathroom. The muscles you use to pinch off the stream are the same muscles you want to exercise. You can do your Kegel exercises in any position, but many women find it easiest to do them lying down, at least at first.
Imagine you sat down on a marble. Now, try to pick up the marble using your pelvic floor. Hold the marble up for three seconds, and then relax for the next three seconds. You should repeat this cycle for 10 to 15 repetitions.
Kegel exercises require you to focus at first. Attempt to tighten only the pelvic floor muscles, without using any other muscles. Do not hold your breath. Breathe in and out normally during the entire sequence.
Perform your Kegel exercises three times per day, morning, midday, and evening. At each time do 10 to 15 repetitions.
You may be tempted to practice your Kegel exercises while emptying your bladder, don’t do it. This can lead to not emptying your bladder completely, which increase your chances of getting a urinary tract infection.
When and Where Should You Do Your Kegel Exercises
Doing your Kegel exercises is invisible. No one can tell when you are doing them. You can do them in the morning while you are watching the morning news. Do that at your desk at work. You can do your last set while relaxing in bed at night. Just remember to do them three times each day.
Are You Having Trouble?
Your doctor, nurse, or physician’s assistant knows all about Kegel exercises. Don’t be shy, ask them for advice. They can give you advice and help you more accurately identify the proper muscles. They recognize the importance of strong pelvic floor muscles.
Your health care provider may suggest using biofeedback or weighted vaginal cones to help you identify the muscles and improve your pelvic floor strength. The vaginal cone is inserted into the vagina and then you use your pelvic floor muscles to hold it in place while you go about your normal activities.
A biofeedback test can help you identify the right muscles and measure your strength. Your doctor inserts a small pressure sensor in your vagina, or sometimes in the rectum, and then has you squeeze your pelvic floor muscles. The sensor measures the contraction and provides feedback to you and your doctor.
How Long Does It Take To Get Results?
If you perform your Kegel exercises three times per day, you should start seeing results in a few weeks. For some women, it takes a few months before substantial results appear. What results will you see? You should see a reduction in urinary leakage. Remember, this is not a fix. You must continue doing your Kegel exercises on a daily basis to maintain strong pelvic floor muscles and to keep the benefits.