Flick through any pregnancy magazine and you’ll find a section on kegels somewhere inside it.
The reason pregnant women are bombarded with articles on kegels when reading their favorite magazine is simple – they work, well.
While there are many exercises pregnant women are encouraged to do in order to help keep everything running smoothly down there, kegels top the list. Not only can they make giving birth much easier, they can also strengthen your vaginal muscles and even ensure you have better orgasms!
Kegels and other pelvic floor exercises are great for when you’re pregnant, but they can also speed up post-pregnancy healing too. You’re encouraged to start doing these exercises as soon as you’re out of your hospital bed and back home again. A weak pelvic floor can mean you suffer from stress incontinence (an embarrassing leak that happens when you laugh or sneeze), and split abdominal muscles, which are no fun at all.
The beauty of pelvic floor exercises is you can do them anywhere, at any time, and nobody even knows you’re doing them. You can be lying down, sitting on the bus, or even feeding your little one, and still undertake a session of kegels.
How to Do Kegels
If you’ve ever tried to stop yourself from peeing before, you’ll have inadvertantly performed a kegel exercise. Yes, they’re really that easy to do. If you want another equally as vivid idea of how to perform a kegel, just imagine you’re trying not to fart. Imagine, and you really have to imagine this, you’ve gotten down and dirty with some tasty Indian food, and now it’s payback time. Pull in your sphincter muscles as if you’re trying to hold in a big one (because, uh, you’re at your cousin’s wedding or something) and you’ll notice your vaginal muscles also tighten slightly. That right there is a kegel.
Because you have two holes rather than just the one that guys have (unless you count their mouths), it’s best to perform kegels that work the whole muscle system in your pelvic area.
You can do this easily by trying not to pee, then trying not to fart. Crude description, sure, but it’s one you’ll remember. By alternating, you’ll get a feel for the muscles in your pelvic floor. You’ll begin to feel them strengthen in time, so will know for sure your efforts aren’t in vain.
Adding in Breathing
Breathing is an important part of any kegel exercise plan, as like all other muscles, those in your pelvic floor will require oxygen if they’re to work to their maximum potential.
The trick is to always exhale as you squeeze your muscles. Relax as you inhale, squeeze as you exhale.
Building up Strength
You can strengthen your pelvic floor muscles by doing a variety of different kegel exercises. This variety will slow down the rate in which your muscles fatigue, and will ensure your training is as effective as possible.
One particular training method is the quick squeeze. Squeeze your pelvic floor muscles for just a second at a times, and relax them for the same amount of time. This rapid-fire workout can be done ten times. Rest for a few seconds, then do it again.
You can also try doing longer holds. Trying squeezing your muscles for five seconds, before relaxing. Repeat this five times. Relax for a minute or two, then do another set. Eventually you’ll find you can do ten-second holds for at least ten sets.
Despite kegels feeling really easy to do (maybe too easy), they’re worth persisting with. These exercises will help you control your bladder again, and will help you avoid nasty conditions such as prolapse, where your organs begin to sink into the walls of your vagina.
Things to Remember
While it’s virtually impossible to do kegels incorrectly, there are a few pointers you’ll want to keep in mind.
- Don’t hold your breath. Some people get in the habit of holding their breath as they do kegels. Don’t be one of these people!
- When releasing your muscles from a squeeze, don’t push them down. Simply let go of the squeeze and relax
- Make sure you’re working the right muscles. The muscles in your backside and your thighs shouldn’t do any of the work. Keep these muscles relaxed at all times
If you’re having trouble finding the right muscles, you can try doing kegels on top of a Swiss ball. This can be a great way of honing in on your pelvic floor muscles after pregnancy too, especially if the whole area feels a bit numb. By sitting on a Swiss ball, you’ll be able to feel the contractions happening, whereas you may not be able to feel them when sitting on your comfy bed, for example.
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