If you leak urine when sneezing, coughing or laughing, these Kegel exercises can help

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Kegel exercises won’t help you look better, but they do something just as important — strengthen the muscles that support the bladder. Strong pelvic floor muscles can go a long way toward warding off incontinence.

These exercises were developed in the late 1940s by Dr. Arnold H. Kegel, an American gynecologist, as a nonsurgical way to prevent women from leaking urine. They also work for men plagued by incontinence.

Although Kegel exercises themselves are simple, finding the right muscles to exercises isn’t. One-third or more of women and men who do Kegels are actually working their abdominal, buttock, or inner thigh muscles. They don’t reap the benefits of the exercises.

Why Kegel exercises matter

Many factors can weaken your pelvic floor muscles, including pregnancy, childbirth, surgery, aging, excessive straining from constipation or chronic coughing, and being overweight.

You might benefit from doing Kegel exercises if you:

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  • Leak a few drops of urine while sneezing, laughing or coughing (stress incontinence)
  • Have a strong, sudden urge to urinate just before losing a large amount of urine (urinary urge incontinence)
  • Leak stool (fecal incontinence)

Locate your pelvic muscles

Several techniques can be used to find the right set of muscles to exercise.

Women:

  • Pretend you are trying to avoid passing gas.
  • Pretend to tighten your vagina around a tampon.

Men:

  • Pretend you are trying to avoid passing gas.
  • While urinating, try to stop your urine stream.

If you’ve identified the right muscles, you’ll feel the contraction more in the back of the pelvic area than the front.

The Kegel Technique

Once you’ve located your pelvic floor muscles, you can try some Kegel exercises. You can perform them sitting, standing, or lying down. It’s easy to work Kegels into your daily routine because, unlike a typical trip to the gym, you don’t need a sports bra and a membership.

Since all the action is happening silently in your pants, you can literally do your Kegels anywhere! (Just make sure you’re not making too many funny faces while you concentrate on tensing and releasing.)

Here’s what to do to perform a Kegel exercise – it’s simple:

kegel exercise steps

Try The Elevator Exercise (Trust Us On This!)

One really great way to practice Kegel exercises is the ‘elevator’ method. Imagine your vagina as an elevator shaft, with the opening as the ground floor. Slowly contract your pelvic muscles, lifting the elevator up towards your belly button. Pause at the top. Then slowly lower the elevator back down. Repeat 5 times. Keep breathing normally, and try not to squeeze your bum or stomach muscles.

Using An Exercise Aid

Now that you’ve discovered your pelvic floor muscles and you understand the basic method, it’s time to start a Kegel routine.  Using an exercising aid allows you gain pelvic strength, ensure you’re always working out the right muscles, and to stay motivated to exercise. A weighted Kegel exerciser adds resistance to your exercise, allowing you to strengthen your pelvic muscles more effectively. For beginners, a light resistance exerciser is best.

Beginners Routine With An Exerciser:

Below is our recommended routine for beginners to try when starting Kegels with an exerciser. After inserting the exerciser according to the manufacturer’s instructions and getting into a comfortable position:

  1. Contract your pelvic floor muscles, lift the exerciser upwards
  2. Hold the contraction for 2 seconds, while taking deep breaths
  3. Release the contraction
  4. Rest & relax for a minimum of 2 seconds, or for as long as you need before repeating the exercise
  5. Repeat 10 times for a Kegel set

If this is challenging, you can reduce your repetitions to an amount that is comfortable for you. Try to perform a Kegel set 3 times a week, on alternate weekdays. As you progress, the length of both the contraction and rest can be increased to up to 10 seconds each.

 

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