A kegel is the name of a pelvic floor exercise, named after Dr. Kegel who discovered the exercise. These muscles are attached to the pelvic bone and act like a hammock, holding in your pelvic organs. To isolate these muscles try stopping and starting the flow of urine. Involuntary leakage of urine (urinary incontinence) is the bane of many of us who've reached our 40's — and often affects younger women, too. Decreasing levels of estrogen can weaken the muscles that have control over the urethra (the tube carrying urine from the bladder to the outside of the body). Other factors, such as weight gain as we get older, can make incontinence worse.
What Are Kegel Exercises?
Kegel, or pelvic floor muscle exercises are done to strengthen the muscles which support the urethra, bladder, uterus and rectum.
Why Do Kegel Exercises?
Often the pelvic floor muscles are weak which contributes to problems with losing urine. Doing the exercises correctly and regularly with resistance can strengthen the muscles. Stronger muscles lead to little or no urine loss for many women.
How Do I Do Them?
Over one-third of women start out squeezing the wrong muscles. Therefore, it is helpful to work with a doctor or nurse who can teach you the correct technique. You can also check yourself by placing a finger in your vagina and squeezing around it. When you feel pressure around your finger, you are using the correct muscle. Try to keep everything relaxed except the muscles right around the vagina. At the same time, do not bear down or squeeze your thigh, back or abdominal muscles. Breathe slowly and deeply. At first you can do the exercises with your knees together (lying or sitting).
How Often Should I Do Kegal Exercises?
Be sure you are doing them correctly before you start. We recommend doing the exercises for five minutes twice a day. You should squeeze the muscle for a count of four and relax for a count of four. At first, you may not be able to do the exercises for a whole five minutes or hold the squeeze for a count of four. With practice it will become easier as the muscles get stronger.
When Should I Expect Improvement In My Symptoms?
It takes from six to twelve weeks for most women to notice a change in urine loss. Remember, if you do the exercises with resistance regularly you could see results sooner and prevent stress incontinence.
How Should I Do The Kegel Exercises?
If you read that these exercises can be done anywhere, anytime - that is not necessarily true. We have studied different ways of doing the exercises to see what works best to decrease urine loss. What we found worked best was five minute sessions done twice a day. Many women report that five minutes before they get up in the morning and five minutes before they sleep is a helpful routine.
Is There Anything I Should Change Once The Kegel Become Easy?
Once the exercises become easy, you can further strengthen the muscles by squeezing to a count of eight and relaxing to a count of eight with our recommended resistance exerciser. Repeat this for five minutes two times a day. It will also work the muscle more to do the exercises with your knees apart.
How Long Do I Have To Do Kegel Exercises?
Once you have attained your goal, you can do the exercises for five minutes three times a week. If you start having problems again with urine loss, you may need to go back to five minutes two times a day.
Listen to music when you do the exercises - this can make it more fun! Keep a calendar and give yourself a check mark or star each time you do the exercises. This will help you keep track of when you started and keep you motivated. If you stop doing the exercises, start again! Just remember it takes regular practice to see results.
How do I start my pelvic muscle training?
At first you may need to perform these exercises while sitting. As the muscles strengthen you can progress to exercise standing up. Like any activity, start with what you can achieve and progress from there. Remember to use your muscles whenever you exert yourself during your daily activities.
If you can feel the muscles working, exercise them by:
1. Squeezing / tightening and drawing in and up around both your anus (back passage) and urethra (bladder outlet). Lift up inside and try to hold this contraction strongly for as long as you can (1 - 10 seconds). Keep breathing! Now release and relax. You should have a definite feeling of letting go.
2. Rest 10 - 20 seconds - repeat Step 1, and remember it is important to rest. If you find it easy to hold, try to hold longer and repeat as many as you are able. Work towards 12 long, strong holds.
3. Now try 5 - 10 short, fast strong contractions.
do NOT hold your breath
do NOT push down instead of squeeze and lift
do NOT pull your tummy in tightly
do NOT tighten your buttocks and thighs.
Try to set aside 5 - 10 minutes in your day for this exercise routine, and remember, quality is important. A few good contractions are more beneficial than many half-hearted ones and good results take time and effort.
Remember to use the muscles when you need them most. That is, always tighten before you cough, sneeze, lift, bend, get up out of a chair, etc.
How do I improve my Kegel exercises?
Increase the length of time and number of holds you do in succession before experiencing muscle fatigue. Work towards 12 long, strong holds. Increase the number of short, fast contractions - always do your maximum number of quality contractions.
keep your weight within a healthy range for your height and age
seek medical advice for chronic cough
develop good bowel habits
Anticipate that improvement in pelvic floor muscle strength will take 3 - 6 months of regular training of the muscles.
The best results will be achieved by seeking help from a physiotherapist (with training in continence) who will design an individual training program especially suited to you. Pelvic floor exercises may also be useful for people on a bladder training.