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Physiotherapists and other healthcare professionals often recommend Kegel exercise to improve or maintain pelvic health. Kegel exercises can help both women and men who want to maintain their level of pelvic health and those who suffer from embarrassing urinary incontinence. Urinary incontinence, the accidental release of urine, is a more common problem than you might imagine. With proper training by a healthcare professional, individuals can learn how to do Kegel exercises and see positive results in just a few weeks.
What are Kegel Exercises?
Kegel exercises are pelvic floor muscle training exercises that strengthen the pubococcygeus (PC) muscle in both women and men. The PC muscle stretches from the tail bone to the pubic bone to form a “floor” to support the pelvis. It’s easy to include Kegel exercises as a part of your routine every day. You can do your exercises discreetly any time, and no one will notice. Make it a habit to do your Kegel exercises regularly while watching TV, checking your email or even while sitting at your desk at work.
Who Can Benefit from Kegel Exercises?
Kegel exercises can help people who leak a few drops of urine when coughing, sneezing or laughing. They can also help people who experience a strong urge to urinate right before they lose a large amount of urine. For women, Kegel exercises can help strengthen pelvic floor muscles that have been weakened due to surgery, childbirth, pregnancy and aging. Pelvic floor muscles may also weaken from being overweight. The exercises help support the bladder, uterus, rectum and small intestine. For men, Kegel exercises can treat prostate problems like prostate swelling and pain from BPH or prostatitis, the inflammation of the prostate gland. Kegel exercises can have beneficial effects for the sexual health of women and men as well.
How to Do Kegel Exercises
Perform Kegel exercises by contracting and relaxing the muscles of the pelvic floor. Identify the pelvic floor muscles by stopping the flow while urinating. If you are having trouble finding the right muscles, speak to your healthcare professional about biofeedback. Practice Kegel exercises by emptying your bladder and lying on your back until you perfect your technique.
Kegel exercises follow a squeeze, hold, release pattern. To start, contract your pelvic floor muscles and hold for five seconds, and then relax for five seconds. Repeat five times. Increase your exercises until you can keep your pelvic floor muscles contracted for ten seconds, with ten seconds of relaxation between the contractions. The goal is to complete your Kegel exercises three times daily with ten seconds of contractions and relaxation, for ten repetitions.
Your experienced physiotherapist can decide whether Kegel exercises are right for you, and determine if you are performing the exercises correctly.
Practicing Kegel exercises should provide you with a significant improvement for controlling urine leaks in four to six weeks. You may also see improved function during sex.
Tip: Kegel exercises pinpoint the pelvic floor muscles only. Do not contract the muscles of the abdomen, buttocks or thighs. Remember to breathe during your exercises.
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