Pelvic floor exercises, also called Kegel (kay-gull) exercises after Dr. Arnold Kegel who developed them, strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. These muscles play a role in supporting the bladder ad urethra. Weak pelvic floor muscles may contribute to incontinence. Exercises to strengthen theses muscles may help improve urine control.
How Kegel Exercises Help
The pelvic floor muscles act as a sling to help hold the bladder and urethra in place. These muscles also help keep the urethra closed. Weak pelvic floor muscles may allow urine to leak. To strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, do Kegel exercises daily. In a few months, the muscles will be stronger and tighter. This can help prevent urine leakage.
How to do Kegels
Kegel exercises are simple to do and can be done almost anywhere. When you do Kegels, try not to move your leg, buttock, or stomach muscles.
To learn which muscles to exercise:
- While you are urinating, try to stop or slow the urine without tensing the muscles of your legs, buttocks, or abdomen. It is very important not to use these other muscles, because only the pelvic floor muscles help with bladder control.
- When you are able to slow or stop the stream of urine, you have located the correct muscles. Feel the sensation of the muscles pulling inward and upward.
Helpful Tip: Squeeze in the rectal area to tighten the anus as if trying not to pass gas. Once you have found the right muscles, do NOT interrupt your urine flow.
Now you are ready to exercise regularly:
- When you have located the correct muscles, set aside three to four times each day to exercising: morning, midday, and evening.
- Squeeze your muscles to the slow count of four. Then, relax these muscles completely to the slow count of four. (This four-second contraction and four-second relaxation make one “set”).
- Complete 10 sets during each of your daily exercise sessions.
Make pelvic floor exercises a part of your routine:
- Whether you are doing pelvic muscle exercises to improve or maintain bladder control, you must do them regularly on a lifetime basis.
- Use the daily routines such as watching TV, reading, stopping at traffic lights, and waiting in the grocery checkout line as cues to perform a few exercises.
- If your pelvic floor muscles are very weak, you should begin by contracting the muscles for only 3 to 5 seconds. Do the best you can and continue faithfully. In a few weeks, you should be able to exercise sets you are able to do. Your goal is to hold each contraction for 10 seconds, to relax for 10 seconds, and to complete 25 to 30 sets.