Guide to Kegel exercises for beginners
What you need to know:
- Pelvic floor muscles are the set of muscles you use to stop the flow of urine mid-stream.
- Strengthening these muscles helps prevent urine leakage, prevent accidentally passing gas or poop, and can even improve your orgasm
- After delivery, Kegel will strengthen pelvic floor muscles that support the urethra, bladder, uterus, and rectum
Kegel exercises are a popular way of strengthening pelvic muscles. According to the health platform, Cleveland Clinic, pelvic floor muscles are the set of muscles you use to stop the flow of urine mid-stream. “Strengthening these muscles helps prevent urine leakage, prevent accidentally passing gas or poop, and can even improve your orgasm,” the platform states. After delivery, Kegel will strengthen pelvic floor muscles that support the urethra, bladder, uterus, and rectum. “Apart from dealing with urinary incontinence and diminished bladder control, Kegel exercises firm the tissues around the reproductive organs,” says physiotherapist Anastasia Wangui. However, many women who do this routine don’t know the right steps to begin and end with.
According to Michelle Kenway, a pelvic floor physiotherapist and the author of the pelvic floor exercising guide book, Inside Out, you need to know where your pelvic floor muscles are located. “Your pelvic floor muscles are located in layers that are between your legs where you sit. The pelvic floor muscles wrap around the 3 openings in the female pelvic floor,” she says. These muscles form a small hammock that runs between your pubic bone in the front of your body to the end of your spine at your back. Kegel exercises are done by lifting and holding and then relaxing your pelvic floor muscles. According to Kenway, you may begin to notice improvements within a couple of weeks of starting your Kegels. At the same time, it might take you five to six months to fully strengthen your pelvic floor muscles if you started from a weakness.
You can do your Kegel exercises while lying down or while sitting or standing. If you are just getting started and your pelvic muscles are weak, start from the lying-down position. The Cleveland Clinic says you will not be doing the exercise correctly if you hold your breath while doing the exercises or if you bear down or squeeze the muscles of your inner thighs, back, buttocks, or stomach.
The first method of doing Kegels
According to Kenway, there are three steps you should follow to do your kegel exercises correctly.
In the beginning, you will be doing lifts or squeezes, holds, and relaxing. You should perform at least two sets of exercises a day. According to Kenway, the first step involves tightening your anus as if you are stopping gas from passing. “The muscles of the anus tighten but the buttocks should stay relaxed. As you tighten, lift inwards until you feel a squeezing sensation around it,” she says.
Ms. Kenway explains that at this step, you will need to tighten and squeeze the entrance to the vagina as if you're closing it shut and at the same time try to lift upwards inwards.
Tighten the urethra opening. You may feel simultaneous tightening on your vagina tightening if you do this is correct. Then relax your muscles.
As you master these moves, Kenway says you should start to combine steps 1-3 for the correct Kegel exercise technique. “Tighten your anus and vagina, lift them both in and upwards as you tighten and squeeze as if you're stopping the flow of urine, then relax your pelvic floor,” she says.
The second method of doing Kegels
Start by lifting and holding your pelvic muscles for three seconds. Then relax them for three seconds. “Repeat this routine 10 times in a row. Ten times in a single exercise will make up one set of Kegel exercises. You may however reduce this if you feel the number is too high.” Do this at least twice per day.
As you become accustomed to these routines, you may increase the length of time you are lifting, holding, and relaxing. This will include the number of exercises that make up one set (for instance increase from 10 to 20), the number of times per day you are doing these exercises (for instance increase from twice to thrice), and the length of holding and relaxing (for instance increase holding from three seconds to four seconds and relaxing from three seconds, to four seconds.)
Testing your Kegels
As you do your Kegels, you should start testing whether you are getting the gist of it. One of the ways to do this is by stopping or slowing the flow of urine. However, you should only do this as a test and not an exercise only once a week. Kenway says that you may also tighten your pelvic floor