Kegel exercises, sometimes called pelvic floor exercises or Kegels, are clench and release exercises that can be done to train the pelvic floor muscles and improve the overall strength of your pelvic floor.
The pelvic floor is a series of muscles and tissues that forms a sling or hammock at the bottom of your pelvic and its function is to support and hold the pelvic organs including the bladder, uterus, and rectum in place. If you have a weak pelvic floor, you may suffer from issues such as a prolapsed bladder or the inability to control your bladder or bowels, also known as incontinence.
Kegels are often recommended by healthcare professionals and Physiotherapists for patients with urinary incontinence, but many people find it hard to do these correctly. The pelvic floor muscle is deeply internal, and if your pelvic floor muscles are particularly weak, you may not be able to engage these muscles at all.
Once you understand the benefits of Kegel exercises and how to perform them properly, you can do them anytime and anywhere - from the privacy of your own home, to waiting in the queue in a store.
Why Kegel exercises are important
There are many factors that can cause weakness in your pelvic floor, including pregnancy, childbirth, surgery, aging, excessive straining from constipation or chronic coughing, and being overweight.
The resultant pelvic floor weakness can lead to issues such as leaking urine while sneezing, laughing, or coughing, also known as stress incontinence, or having a strong and sudden urge to urinate just before leaking a large amount of urine, also known as urge incontinence.
By doing Kegel exercises, you are strengthening the pelvic floor muscles, allowing them to perform their role in the body better which can help improve symptoms and reduce leaks in people suffering from stress, urge and mixed urinary incontinence. As well as helping with incontinence, Kegels can be done to treat pelvic organ prolapse as well as improving sensation during sexual intercourse.
How to activate your pelvic floor with Kegel exercises
The pelvic floor muscle is quite possibly our body’s biggest unsung hero. It plays a crucial role in day-to-day functions, from facilitating healthy toilet habits, to supporting our posture and physical movements.
The pelvic floor is a key set of deep muscles situated in the pelvis. They run from the frontal pubic bone to the base of the spine. Shaped like a basin, the pelvic floor holds the pelvic organs (uterus, vagina, bowel and bladder) in place and supports the bladder to provide control when you urinate. They relax as the bladder contracts to let urine out and tighten in order to allow you to hold. In a nutshell, a strong pelvic floor means everything is kept firmly in place and you should have full control over when, where and how often you visit the loo.
When you perform Kegel exercises, you are squeezing these pelvic floor muscles and holding each squeeze. Regular, correct execution of Kegels should strengthen these muscles and give you noticeably more control over your pelvic floor functions and lead to fewer leaks. Even after you start to notice Kegel exercises working, you should keep doing them in order to maintain strength in the pelvic floor.
How do you do Kegel exercises?
Kegel exercises involve the manual contraction of the internal muscles that control urination (the pelvic floor muscles) by lifting and releasing repeatedly. This is achieved by squeezing and tightening these internal muscles (as though you're holding in a wee) and then releasing again.
Pelvic Floor Expert & Pilates Instructor Jane Wake has worked with us to develop a series of 5, 10 and 15 minute pelvic floor workouts, to help you engage with these important muscles. Try the 5 and 10 minute workouts below, or learn more about how to do Kegel exercises with the full Invisible Workout series.
Benefits of Kegel exercises
There are many benefits to performing Kegel exercises for women and men, including:
- Stronger bladder control
- Increased sensitivity during sex
- Improved posture
- Stronger core strength
- Reduced risk of bladder prolapse
If you're experiencing any difficulty with manually contracting your pelvic floor, perhaps consult with a GP or Physiotherapist who can help identify the best course of action.
You may also find INNOVO helpful. INNOVO is a clinically proven, truly non-invasive and long-lasting solution to urinary incontinence. Easy to use and comfortable to wear, INNOVO helps you safely and effortlessly strengthen and re-educate the entire network of pelvic floor muscles through gentle muscle stimulation.
Using INNOVO for just 30 minutes a day/five days a week over 12 weeks has been proven to treat bladder weakness - delivering results in as little as 4 weeks1.
INNOVO treats stress, urge, & mixed incontinence in both women and men of all ages, and is the only non-invasive pelvic floor exerciser that targets the root cause of the problem. And best of all, INNOVO actually works!
A clinical study found that:
- 80% of users saw a significant reduction in leaks after just 4 weeks1
- 87% of users were defined as either dry or almost dry after 12 weeks2
- 90% of users would recommend the therapy to others3