Kegel exercises, also known as pelvic floor exercises, is a repeated contraction and relaxation of the pelvic floor muscles. Kegel exercises are named after Dr, Arnold Kegel, who was the first physician to describe this contraction. Kegel exercises strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which support the uterus, bladder, small intestine and rectum.
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 which reviewed the performance of women doing Kegels after brief verbal instruction. They were then re-tested and 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 conclusion was that simple written or verbal instruction is not sufficient when prescribing a Kegel exercise program.
In order for a muscle to get stronger, it must be exercised properly. Most women do not perform pelvic muscle contractions adequately or frequently. For example, a woman with incontinence or prolapse should not hold the contraction for 10 seconds as this period of time over-exercises the muscle and tends to create muscle soreness.
Over-exercising a muscle can lead to muscle performance decrease, which means an increase in incontinence and making it worse. On the other hand, some women under-exercise the muscles, which hinders the muscle from gaining strength. 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:
1. While urinating, stop the stream of urine; if accomplished then you have identified the basic move
a. don’t start and stop your urination on a regular basis, as that might do harm
2. Try and hold your contractions for two to three seconds and then release
3. 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:
1. No closing of the legs together
2. No squeezing the bottom
3. No pressing your stomach outward.
4. 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?
• Reduces pelvic pain or vaginal pain while having sex
• Increases muscle strength that is involved in pleasurable sexual sensations, helping some women achieve orgasm
• Awareness of the pleasurable sexual sensation muscles
• Improve urinary incontinence
• 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 Oklahoma Physical Therapy. Our women’s health specialist, Dr. Mackenzie Barnes, 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. Mackenzie Barnes today at 405-749-6281 or make an appointment online at www.oklahomaphysicaltherapy.com/make-appointment.