Kegel is the name of a pelvic floor exercise, named after Dr. Kegel who discovered the kegel exercise. These muscles are attached to the pelvic bone and act like a hammock, holding in your pelvic organs. To try to isolate these muscles trying stopping and starting the flow of urine. This is a kegel.

The aim of Kegel exercises is to restore muscle tone and strength to the pubococcygeus muscles in order to prevent or reduce pelvic floor problems and to increase sexual gratification. Kegel exercises are said to be good for treating vaginal prolapse and preventing uterine prolapse in women.
Kegel exercises may be beneficial in treating urinary incontinence in both men and women. Kegel exercises are also known as pelvic floor exercises, or simply Kegels.
Although Dr. Kegel contemporized and popularized this practice, it is by no means new. The Taoists of ancient China developed a number of different sexual practices to strengthen and tone these same muscles for health, longevity, sexual gratification, and spiritual development. Directly akin to the Kegel exercise is the Taoist practice of the Deer Exercise. The Yogis of India also had a similar practice in Hatha Yoga known as Aswini Mudra (the horse gesture) which is taught and practiced to this day.

Benefits for women

Factors such as pregnancy, childbirth, aging and being overweight often result in the weakening of the pelvic muscles. Kegel exercises are useful in regaining pelvic floor muscle strength in such cases. The consequences of weakened pelvic floor muscles may be reduced urinary or bowel continence, which may be helped by therapeutic strengthening of these muscles. The exercises are also often used to help prevent prolapse of pelvic organs.
Regular Kegel exercise can also increase sexual pleasure for woman and their partners. After childbirth, practicing pelvic floor contractions during vaginal sex will allow the woman immediate feedback from her partner, who can tell her whether they can feel her muscles tightening. In this manner, a newly postpartum woman can retrain her pelvic floor muscles to their pre-pregnancy strength and tone.

Benefits for men

Though most commonly used by women, men can also use Kegel exercises. They are used to strengthen the pubococcygeal muscle and other muscles of the pelvic diaphragm. The object if this may be similar to that of the exercise in women with weakened pelvic floor, i.e. to increase bladder and bowel control and sexual function.
There are said to be significant benefits for the problem of premature ejaculation from having more muscular control of the pelvis. It is also possible that strengthening the pelvic floor may allow some men to achieve a form of orgasm without allowing ejaculation, and thereby perhaps reach multiple ‘climaxes’ during sexual activity.

 

In men this exercise lifts up the testicles, also strengthening the cremaster muscle as well as the anal sphincter, as the anus is the main area contracted when a Kegel is done. This is because the pubococcygeus muscle begins around the anus and runs till the urinary sphincter. Men should be patient when they begin kegel exercises as it may take 4 to 6 weeks to see a substantial difference. Women are able to add resistance to the exercise through isometrically gripping a hard object (such as a Kegel exerciser), or by compressing an object such as foam, but there are no known techniques that would add resistance to male Kegel exercises. Some believe draping a towel over the shaft and lifting it does this, but any force possibly applied to the muscle in this way would be limited to the biological heritability of the penis’ shaft to stay erect and resist bending, in a combination of blood flow (‘hardness’), genetic construction, and tissue integrity. No serious scientific studies have been done into the ‘bodybuilding’ and strength-building of the member through this method, although a niche market definitely exists in the realm of penis enlargement, and various urban legends abound for (with groups dedicated to the propagation of) methods of strengthening and enlarging the penis through various methods of exercise and resistance.

How are Kegel exercises done?

Kegel exercises can be done any time and anywhere. You can do them in the morning, noon or night. The exercises can be done while sitting, standing, lying on your back or taking a bath. Always urinate (empty your bladder) before starting. Do these exercises each day as directed by your caregiver.

Slow contractions:

  • Contract (tighten) the muscles around your anus (hole where bowel movements come out). This should feel like you are trying to hold back urine or gas.
  • Hold these muscles for a count of 10.
  • Slowly release these muscles and relax for a count of 10. Repeat the cycle again.
  • Do a set of 10 contractions, three to four times every day.

Quick contractions:

  • Do five to ten quick, strong contractions after you are finished doing the slow contractions. These may help you prevent an accident by quickly stopping urine leaks.

Remember: Keep your abdominal (stomach), back, and leg muscles relaxed during Kegel exercises. You should feel only the muscles between your legs (pelvic muscles) contracting. Try not to hold your breath while doing these exercises.

What can I do if my muscles are too weak to hold contractions?

At the beginning, many people cannot contract their muscles for a count of 10. Build up your pelvic muscles slowly. Start Kegel exercises by squeezing and relaxing pelvic muscles for four to five seconds each. You can increase your count as your muscle tone improves.

What are the correct muscles to use during Kegel exercises?

Some people use the wrong muscles when doing Kegel exercises. Instead of using the pelvic muscles, they use their back, abdominal, or upper leg muscles. If you use the wrong muscles, the Kegel exercises will not help you. To make sure you are using the right muscles, try the following:

  • Sit on the toilet, or stand in front of the toilet. While passing urine, tighten your muscles to stop the flow of urine. Do this several times until you know what it feels like to tighten the correct muscles. Once you have found the right muscles to use, only do Kegel exercises when you are not urinating.
  • Lie down and put one finger in your rectum. Tighten your muscles as if trying to stop urine and BM from coming out. The rectal muscle should tighten around your finger.
  • Your caregiver may do biofeedback or electrostimulation to help you use the correct muscles. The caregiver may put electrodes on your abdomen and rectal (BM) area, or a sensor inside your rectum. Electrodes and sensors are patches or inserts with wires that are attached to a machine. Biofeedback can help you identify (feel) the correct muscles to use and measure muscle strength during Kegel exercises. Electrostimulation may help improve muscle tone by making the correct muscles contract.

How can I remember to do my Kegel exercises regularly?

Do your exercises at the same times every day. For example, you can do Kegel exercises when you wake up in the morning, after lunch, and at bedtime. You may want to keep a Kegel exercise diary. Write down how many times each day you do Kegel exercises and how many exercises you do each time.

What else should I know about Kegel exercises?

  • It may take three to six months after starting Kegel exercises to see a difference in bladder control. You may begin to notice improved bladder control after six to eight weeks.
  • Do not stop doing Kegel exercises until you have talked to your caregiver. Kegel exercises are useful for the rest of your life.
  • Tighten your pelvic muscles before sneezing, lifting, jumping or getting out of the car.

Ideas for when to do Kegel Exercises

  • When you’re stopped at a red light
  • In the waiting room at the midwife or doctor’s office
  • Drive thru’s such as the bank, dry cleaners, and pharmacy

Sources: wikipedia, Kidney and Urologic Diseases Clearinghouse

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