Ten Effective Kegel Exercises for Women
The pelvic floor, which refers to the muscles and connective tissue in the space between your hips, houses and supports the internal organs related to elimination and reproduction.
When it comes to discussion of the pelvic floor, women get most of the attention because women tend to be more affected, and more commonly affected, by pelvic floor issues – specifically with the physiology of childbearing and uterine and urinary health, which can all be interrelated.
Kegel exercises are an easy way to promote the health and stability of your pelvic floor. Having a healthy pelvis is not something most people think about, until there’s a problem (such as incontinence or an organ prolapse). Dr. Arnold Kegel, a gynecologist from Iowa, introduced the concept of exercising the pubococcygeus muscle, or PC muscle, in the 1940s, and as a result, the strengthening exercises he pioneered are referred to by his name – Kegel exercises, or Kegels. Here are ten great Kegel exercises women can do to strengthen their PC muscles.
Here are the top ten Kegel exercises for women:
1. Test Kegels. If you are unfamiliar with Kegel exercises, the first thing you need to do is test the initial strength of your pelvic floor and locate/isolate the correct muscles. The easiest way to do this is to try to stop the flow of urine the next time you’re using the restroom. If you can do it two or three times (in one “visit”) then you have found your pelvic floor. Remember that contract-and-release feeling, because it is the foundation for all Kegels. Note: your abs, stomach, back, and butt muscles should NOT be engaged when you do your Kegels. If you feel any of these muscles moving, keep working on it and don’t move on to any other Kegel exercises until you’re sure you have the right muscles.
2. Basic Kegels. Contract and release the PC muscles. Work in about 200 of these quick squeezes throughout the day for maximum effectiveness.
3. Sustained Kegels. Squeeze and hold the muscles for ten seconds, or as long as you can up to ten seconds. Repeat the exercise every day and work up to being able to hold for ten seconds, ten times in a row.
4. Elevator Kegels. After you’ve had a little bit of practice with your pelvic floor exercises, you may be ready to try elevator Kegels. While seated, concentrate on your pelvis. Imagine your seat as the bottom floor of a building and your bellybutton as the top floor. Now imagine there is an elevator going from the bottom floor to the top, and use your pelvic floor muscles to move that elevator slowly up, tightening all the way. Pause the “elevator” at the “top floor” and then let it move slowly down, releasing from the top down. This exercise is great practice once you can master it.
5. Progressive Kegels. Tighten your pelvic floor a little bit, and hold it for five counts. Without releasing, tighten a little more and hold for five counts. Without releasing, tighten as much as you can and hold for five seconds. Without releasing, loosen the muscles a little bit and hold for five seconds. Without releasing, loosen the muscles a last time and hold for five seconds. Release.
6. Stopped Elevator Kegels. After you’ve mastered the elevator Kegel and the progressive Kegel, try this variation. Pick a number of “floors” for your elevator to travel through – at least three floors would be good, but five would be best. Lift the elevator to the second floor, and stop there; don’t release the contraction, just hold the muscles for a pause. Lift the elevator again, stopping at each “floor” all the way to the top. Do the same thing going back down.
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