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7 Secrets of Successful Kegel Exercises

Aug 26, 2008
Most women know they should be exercising those hidden pelvic floor muscles, but are daunted by the difficulties. We share the 7 secrets of successful kegel exercises, to help all women to gain stronger, healthier pelvic floor muscles.

1. Find out how to exercise correctly. There are many sources of information on correct kegel exercise techniques. Many women choose to approach a health professional, hoping that they can describe exactly how to produce that elusive squeeze. Unfortunately, this isn't always the best strategy, since research has shown that over half of all women are unable to produce a correct contraction from verbal or written instructions. If you are lucky enough to be within reach of a women's health physical therapist, they may be able to use ultrasound or other equipment to help you learn the correct technique. So explore the services that are available to you.

2. Consider using an exercise aid to help you. There are many different types of exercise aid available, and research has shown that many are definitely effective. Devices with visual feedback are especially useful in showing you what happens inside your body when you try to contract your pelvic floor muscles, and in motivating you to keep going by demonstrating that your exercises are working. Exercise aids are extremely beneficial to women who can't - or don't want to - access specialist health practitioners, but even women who consult a specialist gain substantial benefit from the use of an exercise aid within an ongoing home-based program.

3. Incorporate your kegel exercises into your daily life. This doesn't just mean that you "squeeze and lift" your pelvic floor muscles while waiting at traffic lights, or whilst cooking a meal. It means learning and adopting correct posture in your daily life and developing coordinated breathing. There's increasing evidence that the muscles of the pelvic floor work in coordination with the deep abdominal muscles forming a "girdle" around the lower part of the body, and providing support to the lower back. Using these core muscles effectively will assist you to gain and maintain a stronger pelvic floor.

4. Avoid activities and movements that damage your pelvic floor. Heavy lifting, straining on the toilet, being overweight, and a chronic cough can all weaken the pelvic floor muscles. More surprisingly, so can excessive or inappropriate exercising. Women who participate in sports or exercises that increase abdominal pressure are at risk of pelvic floor damage too. Sports that involve running and jumping, and activities such as abdominal crunches, can place undue pressure on the pelvic floor muscles.

5. Exercise frequently enough to make a real difference. Recommendations vary, but a daily or twice daily session is usually considered appropriate. If this sounds a lot, don't worry, as your exercise sessions need not take more than 10 minutes. In the early days of a kegel exercise program, you'll probably need to set aside some dedicated exercise time. But as you become more certain of your technique, you'll find that you can initiate a correct contraction at any time. Even if you choose to use an exercise aid to help you in the early months, you'll find that you need it less as you build strength.

6. Use an alarm or another signal to remind you that it's time to exercise. Research has shown that women who use a simple alarm are far more likely to stick to their exercise program. Train yourself to respond to the trigger sound and automatically start your exercises, without allowing those "inner voices" to dissuade you.

7. Keep your kegel exercise program going for long enough. Don't give up because you can't see any difference, and definitely don't give up as soon as you do notice a difference! At least 6 weeks of regular, frequent kegel exercises are required to create a perceptible improvement in muscle strength. If you already have symptoms of a weak pelvic floor, such as incontinence, you will probably need to exercise for 12 or more weeks to overcome your problem.

Seven simple secrets can make all the difference. If you want stronger, healthier pelvic floor muscles, listen to the secrets and start today.
About the Author
Linda McClelland is the founder of Pelvic Floor Exercise , providing information, links, services and products to help both women and men worldwide achieve a stronger, healthier pelvic floor. Visit her at http://www.pelvicfloorexercise.com.au
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