What is Kegels exercise?
Kegels for women are important to support pelvic floor health, particularly after childbirth. Kegels are often suggested by clinicians as the first line of treatment. It is an exercise of contracting and relaxing the pelvic muscles. Check out this guide on the basics of how to do Kegels, and take note of the tips below for more techniques.
I know how to do Kegels, but I’m still not seeing results. What now?
What is Kegels exercise doing for you? If not much, you are not alone in your frustration, because incontinence affects 1 in 3 women. Since Kegels are done internally, it is hard to tell if you are contracting the correct pelvic floor muscles. In fact, 1/4 of women perform them incorrectly and for others not sufficiently. But understanding the structure of the pelvic floor may help envision which muscles to contract.
Pelvic floor muscles are composed of layers of muscles that criss-cross in different directions and have holes in them. Yes, holes! The first hole wraps around the urethra to let the urine pass. The second hole is for the vagina in women, and the third is around the anus. The pelvic floor is suspended like a hammock, so most exercises lift all these areas. But there are ways to make Kegels for women more effective around the urethra, which may help with incontinence.
1. Strengthen a variety of muscle fibers
There are different kinds of muscle fibers: fast-twitch and slow-twitch muscles (also known as short and long muscle fibers). Slow-twitch muscles are what help strengthen the whole pelvic floor. Kegels are typically held for 3–10 seconds. General strengthening and lifting of all pelvic floor muscles will help strengthen the muscles closing your urethra (outlet of the bladder). However, when you have to sneeze or you cough, those events need fast reaction times.
Therefore, your fast-twitch muscles need improvement too. To make the most of your Kegel, you will need to also add in the quick, short squeezes (a pulse every second) around the urethra, as well as the long holds, for those emergency sneezes. These exercises are tiring, so try alternating the long and short holds. Your routine might look like this:
- Add five quick contractions into your routine, then hold one long contraction for as long as you can or 5 seconds.
- Do this cycle 10 times for a set, then the set three times a day.
2. Focus on specific muscles
After you get the hang of how to do Kegels, try to fine-tune a part of the pelvic floor muscles, which stretch from your pubic bone all the way to your tailbone. To target specific muscles, stand up, lean back without falling over, and do a Kegel contraction. Then, lean forward as far as you can while standing up and do another Kegel contraction. The leaning forward position contracts more of the area around your urethra instead of your anus. This is the area where you want to focus.
3. Use your breathing and posture
Whenever you exercise, remember to breathe out. For example, if you hold your breath while you do an abdominal crunch, the crunch will put downward pressure on the bladder. Likewise, lifting weights at high speeds, such as the popular Kettlebells and Crossfit, often does the same thing. We have talked to physical therapists who have seen a rise in incontinence in women doing Crossfit. Do a Kegels contraction (upward and inward) before each bearing down event (e.g., lifting weights) so that you can counter the pressure.
Lastly, remember feeling the difference between leaning forward and backward as described above? When you’re in situations that cause leaking, try leaning forward (think “lean in”). For example, if you are jogging, lean forward ever so slightly to naturally hold your pelvic floor where it counts—around the urethra. As you become more advanced at how to do Kegels, practice holding contractions more in the front around your urethra.
4. Pick a time and be consistent
Kegels are fantastic because they can be practiced discreetly anytime and anywhere… or be easy to forget. What is Kegels exercises effectiveness without consistency throughout the day? Like any habit, it’s best to create mental cues to incorporate them into your daily life. You can try setting alarms or using situational triggers. The most important part of any fitness routine is your commitment, so here are some ideas to get you started:
- Mornings: While you’re shampooing your hair, waiting for the coffee to finish brewing, sitting at a red light, on the elevator, when you first sit down at the desk, when you’re reading the news.
- On your lunch break: While your leftovers are in the microwave, during your afternoon walk.
- Throughout the workday: In meetings, whenever someone says a certain word, every time you fill up your water bottle or coffee cup.
- In the evening: On your commute home every time you stop at a red light, while you’re waiting for dinner to finish, while brushing your teeth, when you first get into bed at night.
- During your workout: Use Kegels as a form of active recovery, make them a part of your core routine (e.g., while in a plank position, do quick pelvic floor contractions), while you’re stretching, on the treadmill, between sets.
What is Kegels exercise device?
Many people just need a little extra help. ELITONE helps do kegels for women, longer and stronger than she could on her own (100 contractions in 20 minutes). Put it on and forget about it while you go about other tasks. Instead of struggling with when and how to do Kegels (and how to do them correctly), you can use ELITONE four times a week and see results in as little as 6 weeks.