Every muscle in the body needs a good workout, including your vagina and pelvic floor. That’s where Kegels come in. Branded by Dr. Arnold Kegel in the 1940s, these exercises were originally intended to prevent urine leakage. But we later learned they benefit us in more ways than one. Maintaining your pelvic floor health & strength also decreases the risk of organ prolapse, helps increase sexual pleasure for women, reduces the risk of bowel incontinence, and protects your back and hips (to name a few).
The idea of a Kegel is simple. Contract the pelvic floor and vaginal muscles to improve strength. However, finding the right muscles pose a challenge. Read on to learn how to perform Kegels the right way and how to make them a part of your daily routine.
How to do Kegels the right way
Surprisingly, there is a right and wrong way to perform Kegels. One-third or more women who perform Kegels use the wrong muscles — usually activating the abdominals, thighs, and glutes.
So, let’s go over the finer details of Kegels. Then, you’ll be well on your way to strengthening your pelvic floor.
Locate the correct pelvic muscles
Flex your arm, and you’ll find your biceps. However, the pelvic floor is trickier to find. Additionally, you have two parts of the pelvic floor to work on: the front and the back. Many women only work the back of the pelvic floor, which can lead to imbalances and tightness.
Here’s an easy way to find these muscles; Next time you go to the bathroom, squeeze your muscles to stop urine midstream. Now do the same thing, but pretend to prevent yourself from passing gas. Those are the back, pelvic floor muscles. When you work on Kegels, you should work both the front and back at the same time. If you’re still unsure if you’re doing it correctly, you can ask your gynecologist to check during your next exam.
Time Your Kegels
You don’t need to hold your contraction forever. But it’s important to hold for a period of time and not to pulse. Think about when you do resistance exercises in the gym. You wouldn’t hold a biceps curl for an extended time. Instead, you move through a series of contractions (raising the weight) and extensions (lowering the weight). Practice your Kegels the same way.
As you get better at finding the right muscles and building strength, you can increase the length of your contractions. Work up to ten-second holds with a three-second release.
Put your pelvic floor care on the calendar
You don’t need a gym to perform Kegels, so you can do them when it’s convenient. But you do need to practice them often. So we recommend scheduling Kegels as part of your daily routine. Once you get in the habit, you can start practicing short sessions throughout the day — while driving, cooking dinner, standing in line. Don’t worry; no one will realize what you are doing because all of the work is inside your body.
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