Kegel exercises basically consist of contracting and relaxing the muscles and connective tissues that form part of the pelvic floor, more specifically the Pubococcygeal muscles in order to improve the tone and strengthen them, both in women and men. It is especially recommended for pregnant women to prepare them and strengthen their pelvic floor muscles which are involved during the child birth process.
It also helps prevent female genital prolapse or pelvic organ prolapse, which is characterized by a portion of the vaginal canal protruding from the opening of the vagina as a result of pelvic floor collapse during childbirth and its effects range from uncomfortable pelvic pressure to leakage of urine or feces. Kegel exercises are usually performed using the Kegel exerciser – basically in the shape of a barbell or available as springs or rubber bulbs and are made of stainless steel, plastic or rubber. They are inserted into the vagina and the basic Kegel movements are performed, a described below -
To identify the right muscles, imagine holding and stopping the flow of urine, while in the toilet. The muscles that help you stop the flow are the muscles to be exercised! You may repeat this move, over the course of the day, even if you do not have the Kegel exerciser or the time to use the exerciser. The key is to note that you should be able to feel your vagina tighten and your pelvic floor move upward and feel your pelvic floor move down to the original state, when you relax the muscles. The usual recommendation is to hold the contraction for 3-5 seconds and then release and relax them for 3-5 seconds, with around 8-10 repetitions at a time.
For progression, the contraction – relaxation times can be increased, even up to 10 seconds each!
Some important points to be considered –
Once you have understood the muscles involved in the contractions, perform these exercises at times other than while urinating. Performing Kegels while urinating or on a full bladder, will cause problems instead and even tract infections if the urination process is incomplete, when done repetitively over a period of time. Also make sure to isolate pelvic floor muscles and not involve the abdomen or lower back muscles instead while contracting. Contact your doctor if you have difficulty locating the right muscles.
Ensure that you are not holding your breath while performing the contractions, and keep the breathing normal.
Kegel exercises, are named after Dr. Arnold Kegel, a gynecologist and professor who originated the technique somewhere around the last century. Kegel exercises also enhance sexual satisfaction during intercourse. It is also recommended as an alternative treatment for men and women suffering from urinary incontinence. It is commonly suggested to men too, for treating prostate related problems. It is a boon for pregnant women and indeed effective to ensure a smooth child birth.