A beginner’s guide to Kegel exercises
One of the best ways to build strength in your pelvic floor is to contract the muscles in the pelvic floor. These are called Kegel exercises. Developed in 1940 by a gynecologist named Dr. Arnold Kegel, Kegel exercises can help restore and build muscle strength needed to help prevent incontinence and prolapse. And let’s not forget the great sex you can have with a strong pelvic floor. Kegel exercises can make you pretty hot in the sack.
For some moms, it may be hard to find a physiotherapist nearby who can teach you how to do your Kegels properly. So here’s a quick guide to get you started until you can connect with a physiotherapist.
Finding your pelvic floor muscles
First, you need to identify your pelvic floor muscles. You can do this by pretending you are trying to stop a fart or by stopping your pee halfway through going to the toilet. Warning: don’t stop your pee too many times or you’ll mess up your bladder!
FACT: One third of women start out squeezing the wrong muscles when trying to do a Kegel.
How many, how fast, how hard?
Just like any training program, it’s different for everyone depending on your strength (that’s why you need to bite the bullet and get assessed by a pelvic floor physiotherapist). There are various approaches but here’s a suggested program from a seasoned pelvic floor physiotherapist.
Once you’ve identified your pelvic floor muscles, it’s recommended you work up to 150 Kegels a day! Yikes, that sounds like a lot. Here’s the deal: you can break them up into small groups and do them at different times during the day. The key thing is to vary how you do your Kegels – you want to focus on strength, speed and endurance.
Strength: contract your pelvic floor muscles as hard as you can and hold for ten seconds each
Speed: contract your pelvic floor muscles really quickly, then
Endurance: contract your pelvic floor muscles at slightly less than your strongest contraction and hold for 20-30 seconds each
Don’t go crazy!
You’ve just had a baby. Your muscles are still recovering so take it easy! Listen to your body and build up s-l-o-w-l-y. Start with a set of 10 Kegels for each: strength, speed and endurance. Do this a couple of times a day and slowly increase the number. It’s not a competition. No one’s going to ask you “did you do your 150 Kegels today?”
TIPS FOR GREAT KEGELS:
- Don’t hold your breath
- Don’t use the muscles in your legs and stomach and don’t use the big muscles in your butt
- Do Kegels in lots of different positions
- Do Kegels several times a day
- Do Kegels for at least three months to get real improvement
- Do Kegels for the rest of your life!
Really really really good reasons to do your Kegels!