Kegel exercises have gained significant attention over the years as a go-to for enhancing pelvic floor strength. But what are they, why are they essential, and which are the best exercises to try? Dive in to unlock the secrets to a more robust pelvic foundation.
Why Kegel Exercises?
Kegel exercises target the pelvic floor muscles – the same muscles you use to stop urinating midstream. Strengthening these muscles can assist with issues like incontinence, provide better support for pelvic organs, and enhance sexual function.
When Do You Need to Train Your Pelvic Floor?
Every person, regardless of gender or age, can benefit from maintaining a strong pelvic floor. However, certain life events and conditions can make it especially crucial to focus on these exercises:
- Pregnancy and Postpartum: The weight of a growing baby can put significant strain on the pelvic muscles. Strengthening these muscles during and after pregnancy can help with labor and speed up postpartum recovery.
- Aging: As with other muscles in the body, the pelvic floor muscles naturally weaken with age. Regular Kegel exercises can mitigate this and help prevent related complications.
- Prostate Surgery: Men who’ve undergone procedures on their prostate can benefit from pelvic exercises to improve bladder control and sexual function.
- Chronic Coughing: Conditions like chronic bronchitis or asthma, which result in regular coughing, can weaken the pelvic muscles over time.
- Weight Gain: Carrying excess weight can put added pressure on the pelvic muscles, making strengthening exercises essential.
How Kegel Trainers Can Help You
Kegel trainers, also known as pelvic floor trainers or Kegel devices, have revolutionized the way individuals approach pelvic floor exercises. These trainers are specially designed tools that offer guidance, feedback, and enhanced efficiency for those looking to strengthen their pelvic muscles.
1. Basic Kegel Exercise
- How-To: Imagine you’re trying to stop the flow of urine or prevent passing gas. Hold the contraction for a few seconds, then release.
- Benefits: This foundational exercise builds initial strength and familiarizes you with the sensation of contracting the right muscles.
2. Pelvic Bridge
- How-To: Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Engage your pelvic floor and lift your hips.
- Benefits: Enhances core and buttock strength while stimulating the pelvic floor muscles.
3. Wall Sit
- How-To: Lean against a wall with feet shoulder-width apart. Slide down into a sitting position, engaging the pelvic floor.
- Benefits: This exercise offers dual benefits for the thighs and pelvic muscles.
How Often to Do Kegel Exercises
Consistency is key when it comes to any exercise regimen, and Kegel exercises are no exception. For optimal results, aim to do these exercises at least three times a day. Start with short contractions, holding each for about 3-5 seconds, then gradually increase the time as your muscles get stronger. If you incorporate the more advanced exercises like squats, wall sits, or bird-dog, doing them once a day or every other day would be beneficial. Remember, as with any workout, giving your muscles time to rest and recover is crucial.
When to Expect Results
The timeline for seeing noticeable results from Kegel exercises varies from person to person. However, most individuals start to experience improvements within four to six weeks of consistent practice. You might find that you have better control over bladder functions, reduced urgency to urinate, and enhanced sexual pleasure. For some, the benefits might show up earlier, while for others, it might take a bit longer. It’s essential to stay consistent and patient. If after a few months of regular exercises you don’t notice any change, it might be a good idea to consult a physical therapist or doctor. They can provide guidance and ensure you’re doing the exercises correctly.