All of our body’s muscles need exercise, and the ones that form the pelvic floor are not an exception.
It is responsible for sustaining the uterus, the bladder, the rectum and the small intestine, playing an important role in your health as well as with reproduction and your sex life.
The problem is that over time, it becomes weakened by age-related changes, weight gain, giving birth or high-impact exercise.
This can in turn lead to urinary incontinence, which causes leaking of urine when coughing, sneezing or laughing.
This weakening can also lead to diminished sexual desire, as the vaginal canal becomes overly relaxed.
The exercises were designed by the American gynecologist Arnold Kegel, who found them to be an alternative to surgery to treat this area.
Benefits of Kegel exercises
While their main objective is preventing incontinence, these exercises are also recommended for restoring muscle tone and the vagina, especially after giving birth.
Those who practice them have seen an improvement in sex life not only in strengthening the area but also in being able to perform in different positions.
It’s also proven that women who do them have easier births with less risk of muscle damage.
They prevent prolapse, which is when pelvic organs literally begin to fall out of the body, such as the uterus and the bladder.
You don’t need a trainer, or additional exercise equipment, and you can do them in any outdoor space.
How to identify pelvic floor muscles
To get the best results with these exercises, you need to know which muscles you are going to work.
If you aren’t sure which ones they are, try to identify them the following ways:
When you are urinating, pausing intermittently to feel which muscles contract with this action.
If the above is not enough to find the muscles, insert a clean finger in the vagina and squeeze as much as possible.
Sit in front of a mirror with legs apart and contract your muscles so you can see what occurs in the entrance of the vagina.
How to do Kegel exercises
Kegel exercises can be done in any position, although it is most comfortable lying on your back with your knees flexed.
- Squeeze the muscles the same way as when you are urinating, forcing them upwards.
- Contract and stay in this position for five seconds, breathing softly.
- Relax 10 seconds and repeat 10 times.
- Squeeze and relax the muscles as fast as possible until you are tired or two minutes have passed.
- Start with 5 repetitions then increase until you get to 15.
This activity requires a lot of concentration but has more benefits than the ones above.
- The vagina is a muscular tube in ring-shaped sections, one above the other. Imagine that each one is a floor, and you go up and down the “elevator,” making them tense.
- Start with soft contractions, hold for two seconds and continue until you have done them all.
- Don’t forget to control your breathing.
- Some pelvic floor muscles have three rings: around the urethra, around the vagina and near the anus.
- Try to contract them from front to back and relax in the other direction.
- Do 10 to 15 repetitions.
Ready to do these Kegel exercises at home? The more you incorporate them in your routine, the greater the long term benefits.
At first they are a little uncomfortable and odd, but over time they become easier to practice every day.
They will likely tire you out and you may not be able to identify clearly which ones you are working.
But if you persevere and follow the recommendations above, you will see they aren’t difficult and have very positive results for your well-being.