Kegel exercises, also referred to as pelvic floor exercises, consist of a repeated contraction and relaxation of the pelvic floor muscles. Dr. Arnold Kegel was the first physician to describe this contraction and is who Kegel exercises received their name. The pelvic floor muscles support the uterus, bladder, small intestine and rectum and performing Kegel exercises strengthens the pelvic floor muscles.
Are Kegel Exercises hard to perform?
According to the American Journal of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (Bump, et al), a study was published during the early 1990’s in which women were given brief verbal instructions on how to conduct Kegels and their performance was reviewed. The women were then re-tested and the study revealed that only 49% of these women performed the contraction correctly. Even worse is that 25% of the women were performing the Kegel exercises in such a manner as to promote incontinence. Their findings concluded that simple written or verbal instruction is not sufficient when prescribing a Kegel exercise program.
If exercised properly, a muscle will get stronger. However, most women do not perform pelvic muscle contractions adequately or frequently. For example, a woman should not hold the contraction for 10 seconds as this period of time over-exercises the muscle and tends to create muscle soreness, especially for those who experience incontinence or prolapse. Over-exercising a muscle can lead to muscle performance decrease, which means an increase in incontinence, making it worse. On the other hand, some women hinder the muscle from gaining strength by under-exercising the muscles. Learning the correct way to perform pelvic muscle contractions correctly takes time and can be frustrating.
How is a Kegel Exercise Performed?
The most important thing about Kegel exercises is to identify the correct muscles to contract and relax. Follow these steps to perform a Kegel exercise:
- While urinating, stop the stream of urine; if accomplished then you have identified the basic move (don’t start and stop your urination on a regular basis, as that might do harm)
- Try and hold your contractions for two to three seconds and then release
- Once you have completed these two steps correctly, then complete five sets of 10 repetitions per day. These can be done while performing regular everyday activities such as sitting at your desk, driving your car or while standing in line at the grocery store
A few tips to note:
- No squeezing the bottom
- No pressing your stomach outward.
- No closing of the legs together
- You should feel a small lifting of the pelvic floor muscles along with a slight tensing or drawing in the lower abdominal muscles
What are the benefits of Kegel Exercises?
- Increases muscle strength that is involved in pleasurable sexual sensations, helping some women achieve orgasm
- Reduces pelvic pain or vaginal pain while having sex
- Improve urinary incontinence
- Awareness of the pleasurable sexual sensation muscles
- Prevention and treatment of pelvic organ prolapse
What should I do if I can’t do Kegel Exercises
Whether you can perform Kegels or not and you experience incontinence, prolapse, pain during sexual intercourse or any type of pelvic floor dysfunction, you should visit our trained women’s physical therapist at Lawton Physical Therapy. Our women’s health specialist, Dr. Jackie Saravane, will create a customized treatment plan based on questions asked during your initial exam, a review of your health history and symptoms as well as an internal exam. Contact Dr. Jackie Saravane today at 580-699-5455 or make an appointment online at www.lawtonphysicaltherapy.com/book-an-appointment.