Named after gynaecologist Arnold Kegel, these exercises engage and strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, which hang like a sling between your hips to support your bladder, uterus and other organs and control the flow of urine and the contraction of the vagina and anal sphincter. The goal of the Kegel exercise is to contract the pelvic floor muscles for short periods of time.
Pregnant women who perform Kegel exercises often find they have an easier birth. Strengthening these muscles during pregnancy can help you develop the ability to control your muscles during labor and delivery. Toning these muscles will also minimise two most common problems during pregnancy, namely, decreased bladder control and haemorrhoids.
Kegel exercises are also recommended after pregnancy to promote perineal healing, regain bladder control and strengthen pelvic floor muscles.
To do the Kegel exercises, you first need to locate your Kegel muscles. There are a few ways to do so. One way is to try and stop the flow of urine when urinating. The muscles you’re tightening to stop the urination are the same ones you’ll want to contract when you do a Kegel. However doing this too often during urination can actually weaken the muscles over time and increase your chance of urinary tract infection. Another way is to insert a clean finger into the vagina and try to contract the vagina around your finger.
Once you have located your pelvic floor muscles, contract these muscles for 5 to 10 seconds, then relax, repeating 10 to 20 times. Make sure to empty your bladder before doing the Kegel exercises.
Breathe normally during the exercises, and do this at least three times a day. Try not to move your leg, buttock or abdominal muscles during the exercises.
You can do the exercises:
- When you are stopped at a red light
- In the waiting room at the doctor’s chamber
- Drive-through such as the bank, dry cleaners, and pharmacy.
In fact, no one should be able to tell that you are doing Kegel exercises. So you can do them anywhere.