Kegels! You may have heard about kegels and kegel exercises for men and women from a friend, seen the term crop up in an article, or been encouraged by your doctor to start doing these useful exercises for prostate health. But what exactly are Kegels?
Simply put, Kegels are pelvic floor exercises that involve tightening and releasing the muscles of your pelvic organ. Your pelvic floor is a group of muscles and tissues that form a hammock-like supportive structure under your reproductive organs and bladder. Kegel exercices specifically target and strengthen your pelvic floor muscles.
Benefits of Kegel Exercises
When done correctly, the benefits of performing kegels regularly Include:
- Preventing or reducing urinary incontinence
- Lessening urges to urinate frequently
- Supporting stronger bowel control
- Improving bladder control when sneezing/coughing
- Decreasing urine leakage during exercise
- Helping recovery post-pregnancy or surgery,
- Making sex more pleasurable
Despite these advantages for both men and women, many people struggle to identify their pelvic floor muscles correctly in order to perform Kegel exercices as intended. Keep reading as we walk through proper Kegel technique step-by-step.
How to Find Your Pelvic Floor Muscles for Kegels
The first challenge with Kegels, especially kegel exercises for men, involves locating the right set of muscles, or the correct muscles, to exercise. Your pelvic floor spans from your pubic bone in front to your tailbone in back, forming a bowl shape that supports your bladder, uterus, and rectum by closing off the bottom of your pelvis.
Guide for Women
For women struggling to isolate their pelvic floor, try inserting a clean finger into your vagina and squeezing those muscles. You should feel your vagina tighten around your finger, indicating you are contracting the right muscles.
Another technique involves stopping your urine mid-stream. The muscles used to pause your pee are your pelvic floor ones. While effective for initial identification, avoid making this a regular habit as it can disrupt normal bladder emptying.
If still uncertain, ask your gynecologist about using vaginal cones or biofeedback training to pinpoint the correct pelvic floor muscles to target with your Kegels.
Guide for Men
Men can identify their pelvic floor muscles by inserting a finger into the rectum and squeezing it without flexing abdominal, thigh or buttock muscles.
Like women, pausing urine flow midstream engages the right group of muscles, but don’t make this a habit.
Biofeedback training also helps men properly locate these sometimes tricky-to-isolate pelvic floor muscles for performing effective Kegel exercises to support prostate health and combat stress incontinence.
How often to Practice Kegels
Once you’ve identified your pelvic floor muscles, aim to fit in three sets of 10-second Kegels daily. As the correct muscles grow stronger, work up towards holding each contraction for 10 seconds, relaxing between squeezes.
While a private place works initially, Kegels can be done discreetly anywhere once you master the technique: in line at the store, at your desk at work, while watching TV, or even out on a walk. Consistency aids progress.
Set a daily alarm reminding you to incorporate this beneficial exercise into your regular routine. Make kegel exercises part of your day, every day.
Common Kegel Mistakes to Avoid
When starting a Kegel routine, many common mistakes interfere with reaping results. Watch out for:
- While performing Kegels, remember to breathe freely during the exercises, as holding your breath engages your abdomen instead of isolating your pelvic floor. Breathe freely throughout your pelvic floor exercise, as it can help prevent pelvic organ prolapse.
- Bearing down – Bearing down, forcing a bowel movement, utilizes different muscles. Practice identifying and contracting just your pelvic floor without pushing down.
- Clenching other areas – Keep abs, thighs, and buttocks relaxed. Focus solely on squeezing internal pelvic floor muscles up and in.
- Overdoing contractions – Avoid fatigue. Start with holding gently for a few seconds, building muscular endurance over time through regular practice.
Variations to Enhance Your Kegel Routine
Once comfortable contracting your pelvic floor, add variety by incorporating different types of muscle activations:
- Long squeezes: Tighten muscles for an extended hold of 10 seconds, then release.
- Quick squeezes: Contract muscles rapidly in quick successions, like flutter kicks.
- Combinations: Mix longer and quicker squeezes for a more dynamic, challenging workout.
- Progress by doing Kegels in different positions too:
- Lying down: Lie on your back with knees bent, tightening and releasing.
- Sitting: While seated, tilt pelvis forward to better engage and tighten your pelvic muscles.
- Standing: Tighten before picking up anything heavy, or when sneezing/coughing.
- Squatting/Leaning Forward: Mimic motions known to cause leaks.
Track your Kegel Progress
When doing Kegels, consider keeping a record of ability to gauge improvement, especially when dealing with a urinary tract infection or post-prostate surgery. Take note of:
- Number of seconds able to contract muscles until fatigued
- Number of days exercised pelvic floor in a week
- Pelvic pain decrease on 0-10 scale
- Urinary symptoms reduction
Logging progress keeps motivation high while allowing you to track gains over the weeks and months of conditioning your pelvic floor through regular kegel exercises.
Seeking Professional Pelvic Health Support
If struggling with the negative impacts of pelvic floor dysfunction like urinary incontinence, respiratory issues, painful sex, or strained bowel movements, consider consulting a pelvic floor physical therapist.
These rehabilitation experts guide you through Kegels correctly to strengthen pelvic support, coordinating breathwork while monitoring proper muscle engagement through manual biofeedback therapy. Correct form, especially whilst performing kegel exercises for men, gets ingrained through hands-on assistance.
While kegel exercises effectively train the pelvic floor, those with long-term dysfunction, possibly from bladder and bowel issues or prostate surgery, potentially require specialized therapy regimens to truly transform pelvic health over time. Custom treatment programs boost recovery exponentially.
Continuing your Pelvic Floor Muscle Exercises
Like any beneficial health habit, consistency remains key with kegel exercises. Over time, without regular contraction of these specific muscles in your abdomen and pelvic region, gains diminish, causing you to weaken. Most experts recommend maintaining pelvic floor exercises, like Kegels, long-term.
Prevent urinary leakage, bowel accidents, organ prolapse consequences, sexual discomforts, and other pelvic floor disorder symptoms through daily kegel exercises. Just like brushing your teeth, make activating your pelvic muscles a quick lifetime practice promoting urogenital functioning and comfort.
With expert guidance and commitment to short daily exercise sessions, people of all ages, particularly those recovering from prostate surgery, can benefit immensely from competently executing kegel exercises correctly. Start reeducating your pelvic region today!