Bladder control is dependent on the movement of the muscles while the bladder is filling up. While the bladder muscles have to be relaxed, the urethral muscles have to be tight. Exercises that strengthen pelvic floor muscles help in holding urine in the bladder and prevent leakage.
These exercises of the pelvic floor muscle are called “Kegel” exercises after Arnold Henry Kegel, who developed them.
- 1 Techniques
- 2 Exercising the Right Muscles
- 3 Why do Pelvic Floor Exercises?
- 4 Exercise Routines
- 5 Conclusion
To perform exercises of pelvic floor muscles properly, one must identify these muscles. Women will feel a mild pulling sensation in the rectum as well as the vagina when flexing these muscles. Men will feel the pulling-in sensation in the anus, and there will be movement of the penis.
Stand before the mirror, and try moving the penis up and down without moving other parts of the body. If you are using the correct muscles, you will be able to do this.
Lie down on your back and insert a finger into the vagina. Try squeezing around the finger with the vaginal muscles. If you are using the right muscles, then you will feel vaginal sensation and may also feel pressure on the finger. In case you are not able to detect any movement with one finger, use two fingers.
Note that you might take some time to find the right muscles, and there is nothing wrong with that.
Exercising the Right Muscles
Many make the mistake of tightening other muscles while doing Kegels exercises. Grimmacing, clenching teeth and fists, and holding breath are some of the other mistakes that people tend to make. People inadvertently use stronger muscles to support weaker muscles like the pelvic floor muscles.
But using any other muscle can interfere with the effectiveness and it is important to focus on using the only the pelvic floor muscles.
Avoid using the following muscles below:
Avoid using stomach muscles. To ensure you don’t use them, rest the hand lightly on the belly while you focus on squeezing the pelvic floor muscles. While doing so, you should not feel tightening of the belly muscles.
If you feel pressure in your belly, relax and start again. Make sure that you don’t feel any movement of the stomach muscles while training the pelvic floor muscles.
While training the pelvic floor muscles, you might invariably end up holding your breath. If you do so, then you are using your chest muscles.
To avoid using your chest muscles, relax and note your breathing pattern. Once you start breathing normally, try squeezing the pelvic floor muscles and ensure that your breathing is unaffected.
If your breathing is normal and doesn’t fluctuate while you perform the pelvic floor muscles, your chest muscles are not being flexed.
It’s another set of muscles that people tend to use while trying to exercise the pelvic floor muscles. To test if the buttock muscles are tightening, sit before the mirror and try squeezing the pelvic floor muscles.
If your body is moving slightly, then buttock muscles are in play. Do not flex your buttocks.
If you see movement of upper legs while training the muscles of the pelvic floor, then you are using the wrong set of muscles.
A Sign That You are Doing it Right
If done correctly, no one, apart from you, can tell you are focusing on the correct set of muscles. Yes, if you are completely discrete, you are doing it right!
Why do Pelvic Floor Exercises?
Once the pelvic floor muscles have been correctly identified and you are able to contract them without involving any other muscle group, you are all set to start the exercise.
In each set of Kegel exercises, muscles are squeezed for five seconds and then relaxed for five seconds. Quite often, people don’t relax while doing these exercises. It is essential to relax between the sets, as the muscles need some rest.
Here are few reasons you should consider doing it:
Makes you a better lover
It is universally considered to enhance sexual pleasure and function and make you a better lover. In men it can improve blood flow and help achieve good erections, it is also known to alleviate erectile dysfunction by improving venous leakage symptoms.
In women, it can tighten the vagina, help achieve better orgasms and even kindle sexual desire by enhancing blood flow.
Using Pelvic Muscles to Control the “Urge”
A common misconception among people is that the only way to address the sudden urge is to empty the bladder. You can have frequent urges without completely emptying. Urges are nothing but messages which inform you that you will eventually need to pee.
If you suffer from an overactive bladder, then these urges can be false alarms. Ideally, urges shouldn’t be commands. It should be a sort of early warning system, which makes you prepared to find a toilet to pee – after the urge has been suppressed.
To ensure that the urge is reduced or eliminated, you will need to contract the pelvic floor muscles several times. For this, you have to tighten and relax the muscle as quickly as possible. You should not relax in between squeezes.
Doing this sends a message to the nervous system and to the bladder to stop contractions. As contractions stop and muscles relax, the urge starts subsiding. Once it subsides, you have some time to find a toilet and empty your bladder.
These Won’t Harm You
Kegel exercises will not cause any harm. These exercises are easy and relaxing. If there is some discomfort at the back or stomach, it’s probably from trying very hard. If you have headaches, it is perhaps from holding the breath for too long. These exercises should not be done while you are urinating.
In order to make the muscles stronger, you should squeeze and relax them alternatively. Follow these simple steps:
- Squeeze the muscles for a second and then hold.
- Relax the muscles for a couple of seconds.
- The squeezing and relaxing process will be counted as one set.
- Try to complete Five sets.
Once you are comfortable with more prolonged squeezes, start doing these exercises in different positions – 10 sets sitting, 10 sets lying down, and 10 sets standing. It does not matter when you do it, what matters is that you do it every day.
Try and form a routine to do these exercises. Try doing them as soon as you get up, just after you pee or just before going to bed. Regular exercises will strengthen your pelvic floor
Here is a sample exercise schedule:
- Lying down, squeeze and relax for five seconds each — do 10 sets
- Standing up, squeeze and relax for five seconds each — do 10 sets
- Sitting down, squeeze and relax for five seconds each — do 10 sets
You will start noticing a difference within six weeks of starting your exercises. The pelvic floor muscles become stronger. Doing these exercises regularly for 3 months will bring major changes. Keep in mind that the symptoms will resolve slowly, so stay on track.
Making It a Part of Life
Try making these exercises a part of daily life, so much so that it becomes a sort of reflex action. These exercises can be done during daily activities. After six weeks, you will require minimal effort, and you need not set aside any time for them. You can do these when:
- Waking up in the morning
- Standing and brushing the teeth
- While talking on the phone
- Putting on makeup
- Washing dishes
- Going for a walk
- Waiting for a green light
- Having sex
- Having dinner
- During TV commercials
- Reading a book while lying in the bed
There is no need to keep a count of the times you have done the exercises. Just remember to do these exercises several times a day and make it a habit.