A Kegel is the name of a pelvic floor exercise, named after Dr. Kegel who discovered the exercise. Your Kegel muscles are attached to the pelvic bone and act like a hammock, holding in your pelvic organs. Involuntary leakage of urine (urinary incontinence) is the enemy of many women who’ve reached their 40′s — and often affects younger women, too.
During and after menopause, the decreasing levels of estrogen can weaken the muscles that have control over the urethra (the tube carrying urine from the bladder to the outside of the body). Other factors, such as weight gain as we get older, can make incontinence worse.
The weight gain during pregnancy can also cause a woman to experience urine leakage . During the third trimester a woman’s uterus rests on the bladder and its supporting ligaments, causing those ligaments and surrounding muscles to stretch and weaken.
The success of Kegel exercises depends on proper technique and sticking to a regular Kegel exercise program. The principle behind Kegel exercises is to strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor, (PC Muscle) thereby improving the urethra and/or rectal sphincter function.
So, where exactly are your Kegel muscles?
Several techniques exist to help the incontinent person identify the correct muscles. Typically, most people contract the abdominal or thigh muscles, while not even working the pelvic floor muscles.
Identifying the correct muscles.
One approach is to try to stop the flow of urine midstream by contracting your pelvic floor muscles. Repeat this action several times until you become familiar with the feel of contracting the correct group of muscles. Do not contract your abdominal, thigh, or buttocks muscles while performing the exercise.
How Often Should I Do The Exercises?
Be sure you are doing them correctly before you start. I recommend doing the exercises for five minutes twice a day. You should squeeze the muscle for a count of four and relax for a count of four. At first, you may not be able to do the exercises for a whole five minutes or hold the squeeze for a count of four. With practice it will become easier as the muscles get stronger.
When Should I Expect Improvement In My Symptoms?
It takes from six to twelve weeks for most women to notice a change in urine loss. Remember, if you do the exercises with resistance regularly you could see results sooner and prevent stress incontinence.
Listen to music when you do the exercises — this can make it more fun! (OK, maybe not fun, but music is always good)
Keep a calendar and give yourself a check mark each time you do the exercises. This will help you keep track of when you started and keep you motivated. If you stop doing the exercises, start again! Just remember it takes regular practice to see results.
I got into the habit of doing my Kegel excersizes at every red light I am sitting through. Seems silly, but I spend so much time chauffeuring my kids, it was a way for me to multi-task. I also do them in waiting rooms, elevators, and on long lines at the check out of the supermarket. If the world around me only knew!
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