A guide for developing a pelvic floor exercise routine, also known as Kegels, to help treat incontinence and other types of issues related to the pelvic floor muscles.
Many women – in fact, 1 in 3 – experience some form of urinary incontinence. Strengthening your pelvic floor muscles can greatly increase your ability to avoid urine leakage throughout the day. Pelvic floor exercises for women can make those leaks more manageable, helping you regain control of your bladder, your life and your self-esteem.
The pelvic floor is a system of muscles, ligaments, tissue and nerves arranged at the bottom of the pelvis that form a hammock supporting your bladder and uterus. As women, our pelvic floor goes through a lot, especially during pregnancy and childbirth. In fact, natural childbirth and c-sections can increase your chances of developing urinary incontinence after having children. Kegel exercises can strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, which can help prevent and manage incontinence and make sex more pleasurable.
To locate your pelvic floor muscles, try to stop your urination midstream. If you succeed, you've found the right muscles. These are the same muscles you use when you're avoiding passing gas, as the pelvic floor also supports the rectum.
Kegel exercises are easy, and you can do them anytime, anywhere. Just follow this simple how–to guide to start strengthening your pelvic floor muscles right now!
You can start toning your pelvic muscles by doing Kegel exercises as you read. Just follow these simple steps:
Watch this video for popular Kegel exercises and tips from celebrity trainer and Always Discreet expert, Valerie Waters. She highly recommends pelvic floor exercises, like glute bridges and opting for planks instead of crunches.
To maximize the benefits of your pelvic floor workout, exercise the muscles with both long and short squeezes, repeating until the muscles feel tired. There are two types of exercise lengths:
Try to work Kegel exercises into existing routines and everyday tasks to help make your pelvic floor stronger. That way, you can use it when you need it.
Though you may not feel it, your pelvic floor is activated in conjunction with other muscles when performing certain movements, and not just during exercises that specifically target the pelvic floor. Here are a few body weight exercises that help strengthen those important little muscles. They don’t require any equipment and are easy to do in the comfort of your home.
How do you know if the Kegel exercises and other exercises used to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles are working? After 4–6 weeks of active Kegels and working out your pelvic floor muscles regularly, you may start to notice an improvement in your urinary incontinence symptoms. This includes improved bladder and bowel control, such as reduced urine leakage and less frequent trips to the restroom.
If you’ve made a habit of Kegel exercises and don’t notice an improvement in your sensitive bladder symptoms, it’s time to talk to your doctor. He or she may recommend combining these exercises with other treatments like sensitive bladder training or other medications, devices or procedures to help you manage your incontinence.
If you’ve tried and have trouble doing Kegel exercises, you may want to see a physical therapist who specializes in women’s health, specifically around strengthening the pelvic floor. A physical therapist may suggest biofeedback. Biofeedback is a training technique that may be useful if you have problems locating the right muscles. With biofeedback, you're connected to electrical sensors that help you receive information (feedback) about your body (bio). This feedback helps you focus on making subtle changes in your body, such as flexing your pelvic muscles more successfully.
Try a bladder friendly diet
Avoid foods like caffeine, chocolate, alcohol, carbonated beverages and spicy foods. All of these can alter the acidity of your urine, making your urinary incontinence symptoms worse.
While drinking too much of anything will create an urge to go, a critical tool for dealing with incontinence is to drink plenty of water. Sure, this may sound counterintuitive. After all, if you feel like you have to urinate, it might make sense to limit your fluid intake. However, not drinking enough water results in highly concentrated urine, which will irritate your bladder. Be sure to drink 6 to 8 glasses of water a day.
Weight management can help alleviate the symptoms of adult incontinence, as extra pounds put pressure on the bladder’s muscles, which can lead to stress incontinence. Simply going for more walks around the block is an easy, straight-forward way to get moving.
Now that you know how to do Kegel exercises and other exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor, check out these related articles.