Nearly every pregnant woman has been told to do Kegel exercises to make labor easier. Kegel exercises should be performed by all women, even those who are not pregnant. The muscles of the pelvic floor are worked during Kegel movements. With age, these muscles can weaken allowing the organs of the lower body to extend or bulge into the vagina. This can lead to pressure and fecal or urinary incontinence. During pregnancy, Kegel exercises keep pelvic floor muscles tight enough to hold the weight of the baby.
Finding the pelvic floor muscles
There are two methods of finding the right muscles to tighten during Kegel exercises. The most effective involves inserting a single finger into the vagina. Tighten the muscles of the vagina around the finger and notice how the vagina moves upward. Letting those same muscles loose, causes the floor to move back to its original position.
The second method of isolating the pelvic floor muscles involves stopping the urine flow stream. This method should only be used if the muscles were not recognized using the first method. While urinating, try to stop the flow of urine and then allow the flow to restart. The muscles used to stop the urine flow are the pelvic floor muscles. However, stopping urine flow can lead to urinary tract infections, so use this method sparingly.
Working the pelvic floor muscles
Once located, all it takes to work and strengthen pelvic floor muscles are a few repetitions a day. At first, try contracting the muscles of the pelvic floor and holding for three seconds. Release the muscles for three seconds and repeat the movement 10 times. As the muscles grow stronger, increase to four seconds, then five seconds, and so on.
Pulsating exercises will also work to improve pelvic floor muscle strength. Put on your favorite fast-paced song and tap your foot to the beat. With each tap, tighten the pelvic floor muscles and release.
The great thing about Kegel exercises is the fact that no one ever has to know you are working out your pelvic floor muscles. Sitting in a work meeting, standing in the grocery store line, or dosing off to sleep at night are all perfect places to give that pelvic floor a workout.