While you’re not going to see a visible difference in the appearance of your muscles, don’t underestimate the importance of performing Kegels.
Whether you’ve just given birth, undergone surgery or your muscles are naturally weakening with age, there are plenty of reasons that we need to keep our pelvic floors fit.
Keep scrolling for our complete guide to Kegel exercises: what they are, what they can do for us, and even a tool that can help speed up the process.
What are Kegel exercises?
Kegel exercises help strengthen your pelvic floor, which includes muscles that support your bladder, bowel, and uterus.
Dr. Arnold H. Kegel, an American gynecologist, developed these pelvic floor exercises in the late 1940s to prevent urine leakage in women.
The pelvic floor muscle group forms a small hammock shape which runs from your pubic bone (front), across your body to your tailbone (back).
What are the benefits of regular Kegel exercises?
- Prevent urine leakage, incontinence and gas
- Improve orgasms
- Prevents the condition ‘pelvic organ prolapse’, in which the uterus, bladder and bowel can sag into the vagina
How do you perform Kegel exercises?
Kegels themselves are straightforward. Activating our pelvic floor is often the most difficult part of performing Kegel exercises. However, according to a Harvard study “one-third or more of women and men who do Kegels are actually working their abdominal, buttock, or inner thigh muscles. They don’t reap the benefits of the exercises.”
For first timers, stopping and starting the flow of urine while you pee is an effective way to get a feel for how your pelvic floor muscles will feel when they are activated.
In order to effectively locate your pelvic muscles, it is advised to “pretend to tighten your vagina around a tampon.”
5 Kegel exercise tips you need to know
- Remember to breathe
As with all stretching and muscle contractions, on an inhale we’re sending oxygen to the muscle and on an exhale we are supporting a deeper stretch.
Kegels should always be performed on an exhale, as this is when the pelvic floor lifts, whereas it lowers on the inhale.
- Relax your other muscles
By engaging other muscles, you may be strengthening other parts of your body at the expense of your pelvic floor.
Make sure you aren’t lifting your pelvis, contracting your abdominals, legs, or buttocks. Monitor this movement by placing one hand on your belly and scanning for movement in the abdominal region.
- Keep your sets sporadic
Aim to perform at least 30 to 40 Kegel exercises every day, performing them in small bursts rather than all at once. Kegels require minimal effort and show no visible sign of activity, which makes them ideal for performing in the supermarket line, at a traffic light, or during television commercials.
Intensify contractions and relaxations gradually. Eventually, you should be able to perform 10 second contractions.
- Get into position
The best way to align our pelvic floor muscles is to lie down, sit, or stand straight. Having proper posture allows for the muscles to engage and function more effectively.
- Practice, practice, practice
As well as longer contractions and releases, perform short contractions of up to three seconds regularly to keep your pelvic floor muscles strong.
Main image credit: @wolfcubwolfcub
Have you tried Kegels? If not, would you?