Kegel exercises are a kind of contract-then-release exercise (similar to bicep curls) you can learn to perform on your pelvic floor muscles to make the muscles of your pelvic floor stronger. They can help you prevent or control urinary incontinence. Kegels work on the muscle sling in your pelvis that supports your abdominal contents, including bladder, reproductive organs and bowel, and help make these muscles stronger, as having a weak pelvic floor could lead to problems like being unable to control your bowels or bladder. They are useful for both men and women suffering problems with leakage of urine or with bowel control.
When you need to pee, the pelvic floor muscles relax to allow this to happen. They can also tighten to stop the stream of urine. For some people, these muscles don’t work properly, so they leak urine or cannot control their bowels.
There are many factors that can lead to weakened pelvic floor muscles. These include pregnancy and of course childbirth. Other factors include aging, surgery, excessive straining from constipation or chronic coughing and also being overweight.
Women can do Kegel exercises during pregnancy or after childbirth to try to prevent urinary incontinence.
Once you understand how to do Kegel exercises, you can do them anytime and anywhere , whether at home or waiting in a queue.
To identify your pelvic floor muscles, try stopping urination in midstream and feel the muscles in your vagina (women), anus or bladder tighten and move up. These are your pelvic floor muscles. Once you’ve identified them, tighten them, hold for five seconds then relax for the same length of time.
Try this four or five times in a row. You may be surprised to find yourself quite tired after this! Make sure to keep the muscles in your abdomen, thighs or buttocks relaxed and don’t hold your breath. Repeat three times a day. Over a period of time, work up to contractions lasting 10 seconds, with a ten second rest between and repeat ten times. Try to get to doing this 10:10:10 three times a day. It is also important to do squat exercises, as well as kegels.
Once you have identified the correct muscles, don’t use kegels to stop and start the flow of urine, as this can lead to urinary infections. Practise on an empty bladder.
It may take 3 to 6 months to see good improvements.
There are training aids available for Kegels, such as vaginal weights or wands, and other devices that help you develop resistance against muscle contractions. You may need to get some of these through your medical adviser. Others can be bought over the counter or online.