Kegel exercises strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. The pubococcygeus, or PC muscle, supports the bladder, the bowels and the uterus. Kegel exercises benefit both men and women by reducing incontinence, improving bowel control and enhancing sexual stimulation. During pregnancy, Kegel muscle strength can ease delivery, reduce back discomfort and promote faster perineal healing if cut or torn during delivery. Kegels are performed without additional equipment, but when you need a greater challenge, add a ball to your exercises.
When performing a Kegel, it feels as if you are interrupting the flow of urine, or trying to stop passing wind. No one else can tell you are performing Kegel exercises as the strengthening muscles are internal and legs and butt should not be moving. Check if you are performing Kegels correctly by inserting a finger into your vagina, if you are female, or into your rectum, if you are male. Do a Kegel and contract your PC muscles. In other words, imagine you are preventing the flow of urine. You should feel your vagina or your anus tighten and slightly lift.
Perform Kegels in various positions such as lying face up, lying face down, standing, squatting and sitting. You can practice Kegels while driving, working and watching a movie. Aim to contract the PC muscle for 10 seconds and then release for 10 seconds. Complete two sets of five Kegels approximately 10 times a day, or three sets of 10, three times a day. Vary your exercises and add in a set of fast squeezes to improve the endurance of your pelvic floor muscles.
An exercise, or stability ball is another tool you can add to your Kegel exercise routine and is helpful to both men and women. Perform Kegel exercises while seated on the stability ball to improve your core strength and balance. Your concentration on the PC muscle is increased as you try not to roll off the unstable ball. Plus, the wiggle in your hips challenges the PC muscle to remain contracted. You can lie face up on the ball, as if you were performing an abdominal crunch, and challenge the pelvic floor muscles from another angle. If you enjoy squatting while doing the Kegel exercises, place the ball between your back and a wall as you squat and Kegel.
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