What are Kegel Exercises?
Kegel exercises are designed to strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor that support the bladder and close the sphincters (urethral or anal muscles that contract to stop urine, gas, or stool from coming out.)
Your pelvic area is the portion of your body between your hips. At the bottom of your pelvis are several layers of muscle that stretch between your legs. These muscles attach to the front, back, and sides of the pelvic bones. You can identify these muscles by trying to stop your urine stream. Once you have learned how to identify these muscles, do not regularly perform Kegel exercises while urinating because this may eventually weaken the muscles and worsen your symptoms. You can also place a finger into your vagina, practice a Kegel exercise, and see if you can feel the muscles squeeze your finger. Some women squeeze the wrong muscles. Place a hand on your buttock, thighs, or abdomen to make sure you are not exercising these muscles instead of the internal muscles of the pelvic floor. Try squeezing these muscles while lying, sitting, and standing to see which position best helps you to isolate these muscles. It may help to think of pulling up or pulling into your body rather than just squeezing all the muscles of your pelvis.
How Do I Exercise Pelvic Muscles?
To exercise the pelvic muscles, begin by quickly contracting and relaxing the pelvic muscles. You should try to do 4 to 5 sets of 10 contractions each day. When you are comfortable performing quick pelvic muscle contractions, begin contracting and holding the pelvic floor muscle contraction for 5 seconds before relaxing. Once you are comfortable with holding the pelvic muscle contraction for 5 seconds, increase the hold time for 10 seconds before relaxation, this should be done in 4 to 5 sets of 10 contractions as well. Make sure you completely relax your muscles in between each ³contract and hold.² If you are holding for 5 seconds, you should relax your muscles for 5 seconds before contracting the muscles again.