By Eryn Ford, founder and trainer at Mummy Physiques
Kegel exercises are simple clench-and-release exercises that you can do to make the muscles of your pelvic floor stronger. Your pelvis is the area between your hips that holds your reproductive organs. The pelvic floor is really a series of muscles and tissues that forms a sling, at the bottom of your pelvis. This sling holds your organs in place.
Looking to locate your Kegel muscles? Try stopping your stream of urine when you pee. That’s one of the pelvic floors many functions and makes it easy to figure which muscle you are trying to exercise.
Please ONLY use this method for learning purposes only. It isn’t a good idea to start and stop your urine regularly, or to frequently do Kegel exercises when you have a full bladder. Incomplete emptying of the bladder can raise your risk for a urinary tract infection (UTI).
A weak pelvic floor may lead to issues such as the inability to control your bowels or bladder. Doctors often prescribe Kegels for:
- Stress incontinence – This means leaking urine when you laugh, cough, sneeze, jog, or lift something heavy.
- Urge incontinence – This is a need to urinate that is so strong you can’t reach the toilet in time.
- Pelvic floor weakness due to childbirth. Childbirth can stretch and weaken pelvic floor muscles. And that can cause urine control problems. It can also allow one or more pelvic organs to sag. When the uterus sags, it’s called uterine prolapse. Women can help prevent this problem by doing daily Kegels during and after pregnancy.
When you first start doing Kegel exercises, tense the muscles in your pelvic floor for a count of three, then relax them for a count of three. Keep going until you have done 10 repetitions. Over the next several days, practice until you can hold your muscles tense for a count of 10. Your goal should be to do three sets of 10 repetitions every day. This can be done anywhere as simple as sitting at your office desk.
In my experience it seems lots of women seem to think C-section births make exercises less important. Although C-section is less traumatic to the pelvic muscles than a vaginal birth, you’ve still had nine months of wear and tear on your pelvic floor.
Kegel exercises are crucial for maintaining pelvic floor strength during and after a C-section. If you’re used to high-intensity exercise, Kegel exercises might not seem too exciting, but they really make a difference.
Kegel exercises are so important for everyone! Get into the habit, ladies – your body will thank you for it!
Eryn Ford is the founder and head trainer at Mummy Physiques, where she specialises in women’s fitness with a strong focus on pre and post natal exercise.