The "wonder exercise of pregnancy", kegels are something every woman, pregnant or not, should learn how to do. Though you may be sick and tired of people telling you to exercise during your pregnancy, kegel exercises require so little effort from you, yet give you so much back in return, you really have no excuse not to do them.
Little Pain, Lots of Gain
Kegels are named after their inventor, Dr. Arthur Kegel, who suggested them to his female patients in the 1940s. Kegel exercises target your pelvic floor muscles, helping to strengthen your urethra, bladder, uterus and rectum. Both women and men can become a kegel exerciser, although men won’t gain the childbirth benefits that women do.
Pregnant women are encouraged to do kegels because strong pelvic floor muscles help make childbirth, specifically pushing, easier. Plus, the exercise can lower your chances of tears happening during labor. During the postpartum period, doing kegels can aid in your healing from an episiotomy as well as prevent postpartum incontinence and tone your stretched out vaginal muscles, thereby making sex better.
But the benefits don’t stop there! Kegels can also:
- Prevent incontinence from happening later in life
- Make your orgasms better
- Reduce your chances of hemorrhoids (the exercise aids in circulation to the rectal area)
- In men, kegels can help with erections since kegels encourage increased blood flow to the genitals
Become a Kegel Master
Easy childbirth? Better sex? What are you waiting for? It’s time to get that kegel technique down! Thankfully, instructions for kegel exercises are very simple and easy to follow:
- Contract your muscles as if you were trying to stop the flow of urine
- Hold this contraction for a count of three
- Slowly release and relax
That’s it. You’ve just done your first kegel. To begin with, try to do three to four sets of 25 repetitions several times throughout the day. As your pelvic floor muscles get stronger, increase the length of time you hold the contraction for, working your way up to ten seconds.
When you contract your pelvic muscles, though, be careful not to squeeze your buttocks and abdominals. These muscles aren’t needed to do a kegel. You may also find that you squeeze your rectal muscles. As you get better, you should be able to focus on just your pelvic floor muscles. To make your workout harder, and more effective, try changing your contractions. Do some quickly, like little flutters, while doing others more slowly.
Do It Anywhere!
The best part about kegels is the fact that you can do them anywhere at anytime. Whether you are watching TV, standing in line at the grocery store or are driving in your car; fitting kegels into your busy schedule is easy. Once you’ve had your baby, though, don’t neglect these muscles that you’ve just built up. Make kegels are regular part of your fitness routine for life.
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