The Importance of Kegel Exercises
We’re not the first to tell you this, but Kegel exercises are really important. A Kegel is the name of a pelvic floor exercise, named after Dr. Arthur Kegel who created the exercise. Muscles attached to the pelvic bone, called PC muscles (for pubococcygeus) act like a hammock, holding in your pelvic organs. When these muscles are strong, everything inside is where it’s supposed to be. And strong internal muscles help with incontinence, sexual activity and general urological and sexual well-being.
As you age, the muscles around your vagina and urethra may weaken. This can lead to all kinds of problems you don’t want.
Most often women experience leaking urine when they cough, laugh or sneeze. It happens to some women when they have an orgasm. While this is not the worst thing in the world (panti-liners and towels on the bed during sex help handle the “symptoms”) the condition of these muscles is a part of our physical health and well-being. And because there is a simple way to work on this, there’s really no excuse for slogging through a soggy situation.
How To Do Kegel Exercises
There are two different ways to identify your PC muscles. You can lie down on a bed, or put a foot up on the toilet and insert a finger into your vagina. Squeeze the muscles around your finger. You should feel the muscles tighten around the finger. If your PC muscles are very weak, it might only feel like the flutter of a butterfly. If your PC muscles are strong you’ll feel a good strong contraction.
The other way to find your PC muscles is when you go to the bathroom. As you urinate, tighten up the muscles and see if you can stop the flow of urine for a few seconds. The muscles that do that are the PC muscles.
A few words of caution: don’t try to stop and start your urine every time you go to the bathroom. Interrupting the urine flow is not a good habit for your body to learn. Also, as you tighten your PC muscles try to keep the other surrounding muscles, (your thigh, your stomach and your derrière loose) relaxed so the effort is concentrated on the PC muscles themselves, not on surrounding muscle groups.
Finally, the relaxing of these muscles is just as important as the tightening. We don’t want tense and tight muscles that are not able to relax.
Ideally you want to learn to do Kegels in the following sets:
- Long Kegels: 10 seconds of squeeze time and 10 seconds of relax time
- Short Kegels: 2 seconds of squeeze time and 2 seconds of relax time.
Start with 2-3 minutes once or twice a day (you can do them in the car, while watching TV or at your desk,) and try to build up to 10 minutes twice a day, although we realize that’s a ambitious for many women. Do what you can, but do something. You’ll be better off today and down the road. If you’d like some help, see our Kegel CD. We created it because there was nothing pleasant and fun to help us keep Kegels in our daily regimen!
Kegel “How To” Audio
The audio tracks, below, are intended to teach you how to do Kegel exercises, and to help you find the time and space to start a Kegel exercise program. You can download them to your iPod and you can do the exercises on the bus, on your bed or on your living room sofa. Each circuit is taped using a different type of music so that you can vary your workout. The Introduction describes the program, then start the series by listening to “What’s a Kegel and how to do one?” Once you feel as though you’ve mastered it, you can skip this these and go straight to the circuits.
What’s a Kegel and how do I do one?
So let’s try a Kegel now.
4 minute beginner circuit:
5 minute circuit 1:
5 minute circuit 2:
10 minute circuit 1:
10 minute circuit 2:
There are many resources that support Kegel exercises from OBs who suggest building muscles during and after pregnancy, to menopause specialists who observe the discomfort of prolapse — a dropping down of the cervix into the vaginal cavity — as women age. When it comes to sexual health, Kegels have been associated with greater arousal, increased lubrication, more robust sex drive, and enhanced orgasmic response.
The concept of exercising for fitness to prevent muscular atrophy and to build body strength is just as relevant to these less visible — but not less important — muscle groups.