Most people have heard of Kegel exercises, but not everyone knows exactly what they are or how to do them. Kegels are a type of pelvic floor exercise that works to strengthen the muscles that support the bladder, uterus, and rectum. These muscles can become weakened due to pregnancy, aging, or even lack of exercise. Kegels can help improve bladder control, enhance sexual pleasure, and aid in postpartum recovery. In this ultimate guide to Kegel exercises, we will explore step-by-step instructions, common mistakes to avoid, the benefits of doing Kegels, and more.
Step-by-step guide on how to do Kegels
Before diving into the benefits of Kegel exercises, it’s essential to know how to do them correctly. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do Kegels:
1. Locate the pelvic floor muscles
The first step is to locate the pelvic floor muscles. These are the muscles that you use to stop the flow of urine midstream. To locate them, sit comfortably on the toilet and try to stop the flow of urine. The muscles you use to do this are your pelvic floor muscles. It’s crucial to note that you should only use this method once to identify the muscles and not make a habit of halting the urine stream.
2. Engage and release the muscles
Once you have located the pelvic floor muscles, you can begin to engage them. To engage the muscles, imagine that you are trying to stop the flow of urine and squeeze the muscles. Hold this squeeze for 3-5 seconds, then release the muscles and relax for 3-5 seconds. Repeat the cycle ten times.
3. Different types of Kegel exercises
After you have mastered the basic Kegel exercise, you can move on to different types of Kegel exercises. One type is quick contractions, where you squeeze and hold for one second, then relax for one second. Another type is slow holds, where you squeeze and hold for ten seconds, then relax for ten seconds. Lastly, you can try reverse Kegels. Instead of squeezing, you’ll intentionally relax the muscles and push out, like you’re urinating.
The benefits of Kegels
There are numerous benefits to incorporating Kegel exercises into your daily routine.
1. Improved bladder control
Kegels help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which can improve bladder control. For those who have stress incontinence, or involuntarily leaking urine during activities like sneezing or laughing, Kegel exercises have shown to be an effective way to reduce or even eliminate symptoms.
2. Enhanced sexual pleasure
Kegel exercises can also enhance sexual pleasure by increasing blood flow to the pelvic region and making the pelvic floor muscles stronger, which can lead to stronger and longer-lasting orgasms. In addition, strengthening the pelvic floor muscles can help with vaginal tightness, which can make sex more enjoyable for both partners.
3. Aid in postpartum recovery
For new mothers, Kegel exercises can help the pelvic floor muscles recover after childbirth, which is especially important if there was a vaginal delivery. Kegels can help improve bladder control and increase circulation to the area, which can aid in healing and reduce discomfort. It’s worth noting that new mothers should speak to their healthcare provider before starting any exercise routine after giving birth.
Common mistakes to avoid while doing Kegels
While Kegels are simple exercises, they can be challenging to execute correctly. Here are some common mistakes to avoid and practical solutions for ensuring maximum benefits of the exercises.
1. Using the wrong muscles
It’s common for people to engage the wrong muscles when attempting Kegel exercises, such as the muscles in the stomach, buttocks, or thighs. To avoid this, focus on squeezing the pelvic floor muscles only.
2. Not fully relaxing between repetitions
Another common mistake is not fully relaxing the muscles between repetitions. When holding the muscles, make sure to release them completely before contracting them again.
3. Not following a consistent routine
Like any exercise, it’s essential to be consistent with Kegels to see real benefits. Try to do Kegel exercises every day, whether it’s during your morning routine, while watching TV, or before bed.
Beginner’s guide to Kegels
If you’re new to Kegels, it’s natural to have some concerns. Here’s what you can expect when you’re starting.
1. It may take time to see results
Like any form of exercise, it may take several weeks before you start seeing significant results with Kegels. Stick to a consistent routine and give your muscles time to strengthen.
2. Incorporating Kegels into daily life
You can do Kegel exercises almost anywhere, so try to incorporate them into your daily routine. Try to perform Kegels while standing in line at the grocery store, waiting for a red light while driving, or sitting at your desk at work.
3. Start slow
It’s essential to start slow with Kegel exercises, as overworking the muscles can cause tightness. Begin with ten repetitions per set and gradually work your way up to more repetitions.
The dos and don’ts of Kegels
Here are some guidelines to follow when doing Kegels to ensure that you get the most out of them.
1. Frequency and duration
It’s recommended to do Kegels at least three times a day, with ten repetitions per set. Gradually, work your way up to more sets per day.
2. Proper breathing techniques
When doing Kegels, it’s essential to breathe correctly to ensure that you’re not inadvertently tensing other muscles. Breathe in deeply, then exhale slowly while squeezing the pelvic floor muscles.
3. Avoid tensing other muscles
During Kegels, it’s essential to avoid tensing other muscles, such as those in the stomach, buttocks, or thighs. Focus solely on the pelvic floor muscles.
Kegels are a simple yet effective exercise to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and improve bladder control, enhance sexual pleasure, and aid in postpartum recovery. It’s essential to locate the muscles correctly, follow a consistent routine, and be patient to see results. With this guide, you’ll be sure to know how to execute the exercise safely, avoid common mistakes, and enjoy the benefits that come with it.