Kegel Exercises

Why?

Bladder Control System (Image courtesy of the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse)

Kegel exercises are the simplest treatment for stress or urge incontinence. They don't require any equipment, and once you learn how to do them, you can do them anywhere.

Your pelvic floor muscles support the rectum, urethra and other organs in the pelvis. Kegel exercises strengthen the muscles that hold up the bladder and keep it closed. Toning these muscles regularly can help control bladder leakage and lower your chance of getting hemorrhoids.

Who?

Kegel exercises are an effective tool for both men and women coping with incontinence.

Where?

First, practice your pelvic muscle exercises lying down.

Find a quiet spot to practice—your bathroom or bedroom—so you can concentrate. Start by doing your pelvic muscle exercises lying down. This position is the easiest for doing Kegel exercises because the muscles do not need to work against grav¬ity. When your muscles get stronger, do your exercises sitting or standing to strengthen them further. You can do these exercises any time, while sitting at your desk, in the car, waiting in line, doing the dishes, etc.

How?

The first step is to find the right muscles. Imagine that you are trying to stop yourself from passing gas. Squeeze the muscles you would use. If you sense a “pulling” feeling, those are the right muscles for pelvic exercises.

Try to isolate just the pelvic muscles without tightening your stomach, leg or buttock muscles at the same time. Be careful not to hold your breath as you practice your Kegels.

Squeeze just the pelvic muscles. Pull in the pelvic muscles and hold for a count of 3. Then relax for a count of 3.

Repeat, but do not overdo it. Work up to 3 sets of 10 repeats.

When?

Do your pelvic exercises for five minutes at least three times a day. Once you are comfortable doing them lying down, practice doing them while sitting and standing. Practicing all three positions every day makes the muscles strongest. 

For how long?

Be patient. Do not give up. It may take three to six weeks for your bladder control to improve, although most people notice an improvement after a few weeks

Like any type of exercise, Kegel exercises only work as long as you do them. Once you stop the exercises, the muscles will become weak again and your bladder problems might return to their previous level.

  • Last updated: 11/25/2013
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