Today I have a guest post from Michelle Kenway…
Your pelvic floor is so critical to your overall health and happiness, especially as we age…so take a look…and start practicing your Kegels! You can also get updated info on pelvic floor health and other key women’s sexual health topics here on my blog. Learn more about pelvic floor collapse and incontinence here.
How to do Kegel Exercises – Expert Workout Guidelines for Women
By Michelle Kenway Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist
Kegel exercises are vital for maintaining pelvic floor strength and fitness. For kegel exercises to be most effective, first you need to know how to find and feel your pelvic floor muscles working correctly. Then when you are confident in your ability to exercise the correct muscles using the right technique, you are ready to start a regular pelvic floor workout. This professional article teaches you how to find your pelvic floor muscles and how to most effectively exercise for restoring your pelvic floor strength, support and control.
How to find your pelvic floor muscles
Your pelvic floor muscles are positioned in and around the area where you sit. They run like a hammock between the pubic bone at the front to the tailbone at the back, and from side to side between the sit bones. They are a little like a trampoline of support for your pelvic organs; including the bladder, uterus and vagina, and rectum. The pelvic floor muscles encircle the three pelvic openings (urethra or urine tube, vagina and anus) and are inside your body so they can’t be viewed from outside. This can make kegel exercises challenging especially for women who have difficulty feeling their pelvic floor muscles working.
How to feel your pelvic floor muscles for effective kegel exercises
When you activate your pelvic floor muscles correctly it feels like a squeeze and inwards lift in and around the urethra (urine tube), vagina and anus. Some women feel a definite squeeze and lift while others feel just a slight flicker, especially with weak pelvic floor muscles.
There are some excellent techniques women can use to help find and feel their pelvic floor muscles working correctly. Any one of the following techniques may help you feel your pelvic floor muscles working correctly:
- Next time you empty your bladder see if you can stop or slow the flow using a squeeze and inwards lift of your pelvic openings. If you can’t alter the flow this is a sign that your pelvic floor muscles aren’t working as they should. This technique is simply a test that may be performed occasionally, no more than once a week and never if you have problems emptying your bladder.
- Imagine you need to avoid passing gas in a public place; contract and draw up the muscles in and around your anus.
- Lie on your side with your knees bent, and place a finger on your perineum (area between your vagina and anus). You should feel your perineum lift inwards away from your finger with correct technique.
- Lie on your side and use a mirror to look at the entrance to your vagina. You should see a tightening of the entrance to the vagina and a small inwards lift with a correct contraction of your pelvic floor muscles. Some women incorrectly bulge their pelvic floor downwards when attempting their exercises and using a mirror can help to avoid this tendency.
How to contract your pelvic floor muscles step-by-step
Step 1- Position
Position your body where you best feel your pelvic floor muscles contracting; either lying down, kneeling and resting on your forearms, sitting or standing. When starting out pelvic floor exercises are often easier lying on your side, back or stomach or kneeling.
Step 2- Posture
Try to maintain the normal inward curve in your low spine. If you are sitting or standing, keep your body tall.
Step 3- Lift, squeeze and breathe
Activate your pelvic floor muscles with a lift and squeeze action remembering to and breathe normally throughout. Try to keep lifting and squeezing your pelvic floor for up to 10 seconds at a time.
Step 4- Relax
Completely relax your pelvic floor muscles back to their normal resting position and allow them adequate time to rest and recover before attempting your next exercise.
Workout guidelines for a stronger pelvic floor
When you can feel your pelvic floor muscles and contract them correctly you are ready to start your regular daily pelvic floor workout. Everyone is different in terms of how much exercise they can do when starting out – commence with what you can comfortable do, even if it is just a few short contractions in a row throughout the day and gradually build up your exercises over time.
Daily kegel exercise workout guidelines:
- Contract your pelvic floor muscles for 3-10 seconds at a time;
- Repeat these contractions for up to 8-12 repetitions in a row for one full set of exercises;
- Perform 3 sets of exercises throughout the day i.e. approximately 20-30 exercises in total;
- Aim to do your kegel exercises every day; and
- Try to make your kegel progressively stronger as your strength improves.
If your pelvic floor muscles are weak, it can take 5-6 months of regular exercises to strength and control. Some women notice improvements even after a couple of weeks. And the best part? Age is no barrier to better pelvic floor fitness. Pelvic floor muscles have the capacity to strengthen and recover regardless of stage of life so why not get started on yours today!
Michelle Kenway is author of the internationally acclaimed exercise guide for women Inside Out– the essential women’s guide to pelvic support. For more professional information on effective kegel exercises and pelvic floor safe exercise for women, Michelle can be visited at www.pelvicexercises.com.au