5 Symptom-Relieving Benefits of Kegel Exercises
Having a weak pelvic floor can make symptoms like urinary incontinence, pain in the lower back or tailbone, or pain during sex all too familiar. Luckily, there are methods to minimize the pain and discomfort, one of them being kegel exercises.
If you’re completely new to this type of exercise and are curious to learn more, then you’ve come to the right place! In this article, we’ll talk about the benefits of kegel exercises and answer some common questions you may have.
What Are Kegel Exercises and How Are They Done?
Before we get into the benefits of kegel exercises, let’s briefly talk about the basics of kegels and kegel workouts.
First of all, what are kegels?
Kegels are basically contractions of the pelvic floor that happen when kegel exercises (also known as pelvic floor exercises) are performed. So whenever you’re doing this type of exercise, you are essentially contracting and relaxing the muscles of the pelvic floor in order to strengthen them.
But hold on, what is the pelvic floor exactly?
The pelvic floor is simply a group of muscles, ligaments, and connective tissue located at the bottom of your torso. It wraps around the pelvic bone from the pubic bone to the tail-bone and provides support to organs including the bladder, rectum, uterus, and vagina.
Besides its importance of providing structural support to your organs, the pelvic floor is also essential for bladder and bowel control, pregnancy and childbirth, and optimal functioning of the reproductive organs. As we mentioned before, having weak pelvic muscles can be painful and discomforting, but performing a few pelvic exercises might help to ease some of the symptoms.
How to Do Kegel Exercises
There are various kegel exercises for women that you can do, but the basic idea of these workouts is to clench and release your pelvic muscles; it’s kind of like holding in your pee by tightening the muscles that control urine flow but then relaxing them.
You should also note that pelvic floor exercises can be done sitting or lying down and supplemented with the use of kegel weights (like these ones from our 7-piece kegel weight set). When you do these exercises, just make sure that your bladder is empty!
For more information on how to strengthen your pelvic floor with kegel weights and kegel ball exercises, check out our other blog post here.
5 Benefits of Kegel Exercises
Now that you know a little bit about kegels and kegel exercises, it’s time to talk about the advantages these workouts can bring you. Here are five benefits of kegel exercises you can enjoy while strengthening your pelvic muscles.
1. Faster Postpartum Recovery
Pelvic floor muscles can weaken due to pregnancy, regardless of whether you deliver your baby vaginally or by cesarean. However, having a natural birth weakens the pelvic muscles even more since they’re more prone to tearing.
But just like any other muscle, your pelvic floor muscles are able to heal over time. In fact, performing pelvic floor exercises before pregnancy is a great way to strengthen your pelvic muscles and speed up postpartum recovery time.
2. Reduced Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP)
Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) is a condition that occurs when the pelvic floor muscles become stretched or weakened to the point where the pelvic organs (bladder, uterus, rectum) press into the walls of the vagina.
While pelvic organ prolapse occurs especially after pregnancy and childbirth, you can also develop it through old age, exercises or work that involve heavy lifting, and from other health conditions such as constipation, chronic coughing, and obesity. Common symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse include:
- Leaking bladder
- Issues having bowel movement
- A bulge emerging from the vagina
- Uncomfortable pressure in the pelvis or vagina (especially during sex)
If you’re experiencing pelvic organ prolapse, the good news is that doing kegel exercises regularly can help to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, increase support of your pelvic organs, and reduce the pain and discomfort caused by prolapse. Moderate levels of prolapse can be reduced to the point where they don’t interfere with daily activities, and lower levels can be completely cured!
3. Better Urinary Continence
One of the most well-known benefits of kegel exercises is improved urinary continence. This basically means that you don’t have a problem holding in your pee, regardless of how full your bladder is.
With weak and uncoordinated pelvic muscles, the bladder has less support and results in frequent urination. So if you’ve ever found yourself doing strenuous exercises, lifting heavy objects, laughing, coughing, or sneezing and experienced bladder leakage, performing a few pelvic floor exercises regularly may help with this problem.
4. Improved Back and Hip Support
As we mentioned before, the pelvic floor muscles provide structural support for the pelvic organs. However, they also coordinate with the abdominal muscles to support the spine and connect to the hip rotator muscles to stabilize the hips.
If you have weak pelvic muscles, you may experience lower back pain since your pelvic joints, lower spine, and tailbone don’t have enough support. But luckily for you, doing a few kegel exercises on a regular basis is enough to reduce the discomfort and improve back and hip support.
5. Added Confidence to Your Lifestyle
One of the non-physical benefits of kegel exercises is having more self-confidence. When you have weak pelvic muscles, it’s sometimes challenging to do certain activities with all of the painful and discomforting symptoms. But with pelvic floor exercises, you don’t have to feel anxious or stressed about things like bladder leakage because your pelvic floor muscles will be stronger!
Common Questions About Kegels Exercises
If you’re thinking about trying kegel exercises yourself, here are a few common questions that you may find helpful before getting started.
How Do You Know If You Are Doing Kegels Correctly?
You should feel your pelvic muscles tighten while doing kegels correctly (imagine you’re trying to hold in your pee). When using kegel weights for your exercises, you should feel the weight move more deeply into your vagina. If the weight moves out of your vagina, then you’re using your abdominal muscles instead of your pelvic floor muscles.
If you experience any pain while performing kegel exercises, then stop doing them immediately. Any pain or discomfort felt during or after these exercises can indicate that you’re doing them incorrectly, or they’re simply not meant for you. You should definitely talk with your doctor about any questions or concerns you may have.
How Long Does It Take for Kegel Exercises to Work?
It depends. Some women see improvements within 2-3 weeks while others notice results in six weeks or more. The bottom line is, each person experiences different symptoms and to various degrees so the results can vary.
How Long Can You Leave Kegel Weights In?
Kegel weights (like our Kegel Exerciser) are meant to be used for about 5-10 minutes a day, a few days a week. As you get stronger, you can increase the number of reps and duration of sessions. However, you shouldn’t leave kegel weights in for long or extended periods of time as this can exhaust your pelvic muscles and lead to injuries.
Kegel exercises are one of the best ways to strengthen your pelvic muscles and reduce the discomfort of having a weak pelvic floor. However, never overexert yourself and take rest days as needed. Just like with other workouts (cardio and weightlifting for example), your muscles need time to rest and recover. With that said, it’s time for you to do some strength training and enjoy the benefits of kegel exercises!
Contributing Writer: Rebecca Lee