Athletics

Kegel Exercises: Benefits, Goals, and Cautions

Kegel exercise

Did you ever wet your bed as a kid? It is a relatively common occurrence not only in childhood but in adulthood as well. Over 60% of women over the age of 60 experience daily urinary incontinence.

Why? Due to poor pelvic muscle strength.

Pelvic muscles are a group of muscles that attach to the bottom of the pelvis and sacrum from the front, back, and sides. If you are suffering from something similar firstly there is nothing to be ashamed of and secondly, it is a rather common occurrence and the best remedy to this condition is Kegel exercises.

What are Kegel Exercises?

Your trainer can help you with other muscles but for pelvic muscle strength, you have to master the art of kegel exercise.

So what is it? If you try to hold your bowel or try to  stop your urine midstream, the group of muscles that come into play are the pelvic muscles.

They act like a hammock that slings from front to back. The main pelvic muscles are the Ischiocavernosus muscle (IC) & Bulbocavernosus muscle (BC).

These are responsible for sexual stimulation along with the Pubococcygeus muscle (PC) that helps to hold the pelvic organs as well as control the flow of urine. Just like you have crunches for abs, kegel exercises have been designed to strengthen the pelvic muscles.

 

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    Why do Kegel Exercises?

    Weakness in pelvic muscles can lead to accidental defecation during passing wind or sexual intercourse. In females, it can be caused by pregnancy, parturition, obesity or age-related issues while for men it is mostly due to poor muscle tone in aged individuals.

    These exercises are known to prevent the sagging down of the uterus, bladder and bowel into the vagina. This condition is termed vaginal prolapse. It also improves sexual performance in both men and women.

    Also Read: Body Recomposition: Lose Fat and Gain Muscle

    Pelvic Floor Exercises for Men and Women

    Imagine you want to get abs but you are practising squats. 

    It won’t serve the purpose right? Similarly for Kegels, you need to understand which muscles to strengthen. 

    For women:

    Think about how you would avoid passing gas or imagine that you are tightening your vagina around a tampon.

    For Men:

    Try to stop your wind or urine midstream. The muscles that contract are the ones you need to work on.

    The process- 

     To perform the exercise you need to contract for 3 sec, followed by relaxing for 3 sec. This is counted as a single cycle. The cycles are to be repeated 10 times which counts as a set. With practice, you can hold it for 10 secs and have 3 sets per day. It is advised to start in a lying down position. You can, later on, shift to standing or sitting positions as well.

    Also Check: Tabata vs. HIIT: What’s the Difference?

    Goals and Benefits of Kegel exercises

    Still getting trolled for farting out loud? 

    Want to avoid urine leaks during pregnancy or menopause?

    Worried about vaginal prolapse?

    Want a better orgasm and a healthier sex life?

    Want a smooth natural delivery without chances of complications?

    If your answer is yes to any of the above problems, this is your turn to try it out for yourself.

    Also Read: Sports and Hydration: Importance, Guidance And Effects

    Cautions

    1. The last few drops

    It is not recommended to do Kegels while urinating, as your bladder may not be completely empty afterwards. The result can be a urinary tract infection. You can do it after you’re done urinating to empty the bladder..

    2. Focus on just the pelvic floor muscles

    Do not squeeze your abdomen, stomach and thighs. Just focus on the pelvic muscles,

    3. Don’t hold your breath

    Most of the time complications occur due to tension or holding your breath. 

    4. Stop if you experience pain

     If you experience pain while performing the exercise, you might be doing it wrong. 

    5. Don’t Overdo it 

    Takeaway

    So take charge of your daily life. Do not suffer due to ignorance. Practice these exercises and seek medical help if the situation doesn’t improve. 

    FAQs

    How hard should you squeeze when doing Kegels?

     Gently squeeze your buttocks along with the forward movement of the pelvic floor.

    How can I tighten my pelvic floor muscles fast?

    Kegel exercises are one of the best remedies for tightening pelvic muscles. However, it may take up to 12 weeks to show any significant change. Here are a few other exercises that might help.

    Bird dog

    Take a mat and get on your hands and knees.

    You should place your hands shoulder-width apart and your knees under your hips.

    Pull your belly button toward your spine while keeping your back parallel to the floor.

    While straightening your left leg, extend your right arm forward. 

    Return to your starting position after holding for 2-4 seconds. 

    This should be repeated 8-10 times.

    Then do the same on the other side.

    Do 3-4 sets.

    Squats

    Stand with feet slightly pointing outwards, approximately shoulder width apart

    Make sure your spine is neutral and your core is tight.

    Lower your torso by bending your knees and pushing your hips back. 

    Return to the starting position after 2 seconds.

    Three sets of 10 repetitions each.

    Glute bridge

    Put your hands by your side, knees bent, and feet shoulder-width apart on the floor on your back.

    Your lower back should be pushed into the ground as you tighten your abdominals and buttocks.

    You should raise your hips so that your shoulders meet your knees in a straight line.

    Your belly button should be pulled toward your spine as you squeeze your abs. 

    Place your hand on your knee and hold it for a few seconds before returning to your starting position.

    Repeat 10 times for 3 sets.

    Half-kneeling hip flexor stretch

    Start by getting into a lunge position with one knee on the ground.

    Bend your knees at 90 degrees, and push your pelvis forwards.

    Lean forward to feel the stretch in the inner part of your leg

    Hold for 20-30 seconds and switch legs.

    Repeat 10 times for 3 sets.

    How many Kegels should I do a day?

    Doctors recommend 10-15 cycles per day. Do not try to perform it during urinating.

    How long do you hold your Kegels?

    Ideally, you should contract for 3 – 5 secs followed by 3-5 sec of relaxation period. This cycle is to be repeated 10 times.

    How far do you insert a Kegel?

    Most of us have heard of kegel exercises but are not that well-versed in the idea of kegel weights. Just like you have weights to strengthen your abs or biceps, these are light weights that you insert inside your vagina and hold it for about 15 min, while you do light work. Insert the balls connected by string one by one till you are comfortable and try to stand up.

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