Kegel exercises are also commonly referred to as Pelvic Floor Muscle Training. It aims at reducing stiffness, discomfort, and improving flexibility of the pelvic muscles and organs. In fact, Kegel exercises also aim at keeping all the pelvic organs in the right places for proper urination and hormonal balance for both men and women.
If you’ve never done Kegel exercises before, that’s alright because they’re extremely effortless to do. It can be done with supervision, at home, or without anyone knowing. So why do you need to do Kegel exercises?
Based on the health benefits I found of Kegel exercises, it’s safe to say that they’re for anyone who wants to live healthier lifestyle. With regular practice, within a few weeks or so, Kegel exercises can improve prostate health, bladder health, and can help pregnant women during childbirth.
That’s enough dirt for now, let’s look at the surprising 10 health benefits of Kegel exercises.
1. Kegel Exercises Help Prevent and Treat Urine Incontinence
Urine incontinence, according to a recent review, is the constant leakage of urine from the body. It’s actually involuntary and happens when a person doesn’t want to pee.
This condition is more common than you think. It affects women more than men, that is 30% of women between the ages of 30 to 60. While only 15% of men suffer from this problem.
While urine incontinence is a contributor to other problems, it is also a cause of an overactive bladder. It is characterized by an involuntary muscular contraction of the bladder. This raises the sensation to pee which is uncontrollable. (1)
A recent study on the positive effects of Kegel exercises in women found that it can be an excellent surgical alternative to treating bladder problems. Doing Kegel exercises on a daily basis can elevate bladder training for women. It can also improve pelvic floor muscles for better urine flow. (2)
This evidence-based trial took into account the severe symptoms of urine incontinence (UI). The study showed that women who visited their physician more often showed better signs of improvement.
On an ending note, Kegel exercises can also treat UI in healthy and cancer-affected men. Men with prostate cancer are often victims of UI on a daily basis. Hence an increase in Kegel exercises can reduce urinary stress and improve prostate health. (3)
Key Takeaway: Urine incontinence may cause severe bladder discomfort and sometimes even pain. Doing Kegel exercises daily can help prevent a leaky bladder and strengthen the pelvic floor muscles to contract only when absolutely necessary.
2. Kegel Exercises Can Reduce Fecal Incontinence For Proper Bowel Control
Abnormal bowel control can lead to many problems including constipation, irregular stool inconsistency, and involuntary urination. There are many factors that lead to abnormal bowel control or fecal incontinence such as dietary, environmental, or genetic factors.
The solution is to incorporate healthy foods while doing your daily dose of Kegel exercises. Directly jumping to surgical treatments for fecal incontinence is not the correct choice. Trying a more natural remedy for controlling pelvic muscles is considered a healthier option for most people.
If you’re practicing with the help of a physician, the goal would be to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. Especially those that have been weakened due to constant stretching and contraction. (4)
According to a review, doing Kegel exercises at least 3 times a day for more than 5 weeks showed better results. It reduced symptoms of fecal incontinence and improved proper bowel control.
Sometimes fecal incontinence occurs due to nerve muscle damage, which can also be dealt with Kegel exercises.
Key Takeaway: Kegel exercises are a type of training for people with abnormal bowel problems. If it gets worse, doing more Kegel exercises coupled with some dietary changes can be helpful. Carrying out certain pelvic exercises 3 times a day can show prevent chances of fecal incontinence in both men and women.
3. Practicing Kegel Exercises During Pregnancy Can Reduce Discomfort
Every woman knows how important it is to stay fit and healthy during pregnancy. But this doesn’t just involve a healthy diet plan. You need to incorporate certain physical exercises to reduce muscle discomfort and pain during and after childbirth.
The best kind of exercise for most pregnant women involves pelvic stretching and strengthening. It supports the bladder, uterus, and bowels. If you want to have proper control over perineal tissues and pelvic floor muscles for childbirth, doing more Kegel exercises are a must.
That said, Kegel exercises involves the contracting of the pelvic floor muscles. It needs to be done without disturbing the abdominal, leg, and buttock muscles. This helps stops involuntary bladder flow and anus control. (5)
Kegel exercises that help focus bladder muscles and perineal muscles reduce childbirth discomfort and sagginess ever after labor. This reduces the chances of developing an overactive bladder after childbirth.
Another important factor to consider is the healing of certain types of muscles. Pelvic muscles get extremely tensed and stiff during labor, so the after-effects of it are almost on the painful side. Hence, Kegel exercises can promote muscle contraction by retracing back to its healthy and relaxed state.
Key Takeaway: Kegel exercises are considered as one of the most impactful remedies for pregnant women. It reduces pain, stiffness, and immobility for both labor and childbirth. So doing Kegel exercises during and after pregnancy can prevent perineal and pelvic muscles tension.
4. Doing Kegel Exercises Is An Effective Way To Treat Constipation
We often associated constipation with unhealthy eating habits. But that isn’t always the case for some constipated patients. According to a recent study, Kegel exercises are a great idea for people suffering from recurring or chronic constipation.
Bowel problems can also be treated with certain physical exercises focusing on the pelvic floor muscles. This can improve digestive health and you can treat any sort of bowel embarrassment and discomfort on your own.
Additionally, Kegel exercises also target the passage of stools and stool consistency. These two factors also play a hand at impacting constipation. (6)
Nerve problems including a weakened anal sphincter or rectum can cause constipation. By squeezing the pelvic muscles, you can hold all pelvic organs in its right place. It enhances muscle training which improves the anus and rectum position.
In fact, Kegel exercises also target colon health for proper bowel hygiene and health. So any sort of pelvic exercise, when done correctly, can impact your bowel movement in a natural manner.
Key Takeaway: It’s important to heal tensed muscles associated with constipation. It improves the movement of different parts of the body involved in the passage of stools and movement. Organs such as colon, anal sphincter, and rectum are greatly influenced by regular Kegel exercises.
5. Kegel Exercises Can Treat Muscular Stiffness Caused By Vaginismus In Women
Because of aging, muscles tend to get weakened and stretched, especially vaginal muscles in women. Women with jobs that require heavy-lifting or standing for longer hours often experience a different condition called vaginismus.
Vaginismus, often referred to as a sexual dysfunction, is characterized by involuntary vaginal spasms. This affects a number of physical movements including sexual intercourse. The result of such abnormal vaginal movement is painful urination, muscle stiffness, and pain.
A recent review suggested different types of Kegel exercises to treat vaginismus in women. It impacts the muscles surround the vagina. Doing Kegel exercises helps relax the muscles so you have better control over them. This also helps fight off chronic muscle spasms.
By slowly contracting the vaginal muscles, you can control urine flow and feel more comfortable. This also helps relax tensed muscles associated with intense physical activity. Women who have just experienced childbirth might often encounter vaginismus. So in preparation of having a baby, relaxing pelvic muscles, including vaginal muscles, is very important. (7)
Key Takeaway: Find the correct vaginal muscles to treat and prevent involuntary spasms and stiffness is a good way to reduce your chances of developing vaginismus. This is a sexual dysfunction condition which interferes with a number of activities, mainly sexual intercourse.
6. Doing Kegel Exercises Can Make Women’s Pelvic Stronger After Childbirth
Uterine prolapse is a serious condition that is characterized by weakened pelvic muscles and ligaments. This usually happens to women after childbirth. Uterine prolapse can also be a common form of pelvic organ prolapse resulting in the downward shift of the uterus from its original position. This means the uterus pushes down into the vagina, causing sometimes swelling, pain, and other infections.
This condition can also be determined by lower abdominal and back pain, stiffness, and increased pressure. (8)
If you’re unaware about this condition, chances are you’ve never had problems such as urinary tract infection, painful sexual intercourse, and excretion problems. Most people with any one of the above mentioned problems experience uterine prolapse, especially when left untreated for long.
According to a review, doing Kegel exercises daily can improve pelvic health and prevent uterine prolapse. Rather than doing a hysterectomy for treating this condition, practicing some basic Kegel exercises first might strengthen the muscles surround the vagina and put the uterus organ back to its healthy place.
Also, pelvic weakness during and after childbirth is a major contributor to uterine prolapse. This can be avoided by doing Kegel exercises daily during pregnancy to have better control over the perineal muscles during labor and childbirth. (9)
This helps prevent painful vaginal cramps, stiffness, and discomfort after pregnancy.
Key Takeaway: To make your vaginal and pelvic muscles stronger, Kegel exercises are essential. With the help of these exercises, you can promote muscle health, stability, and retract pelvic organs back to their original places.
7. Regular Kegel Exercises Might Help Treat Erectile Dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction is a very common problem among men. Studies suggest that it affects younger men more often than the older population. Although most men opt for medication to solve this problem, it isn’t the only solution to promote hormonal balance.
Based on multiple studies on erectile dysfunction, doing Kegel exercises coupled with healthy eating habits can improve erectile function in younger men. A study focused on 55 men showed that a 6 month’s implementation of pelvic floor exercises improved the condition of their erectile dysfunction by 35.5%. (10)
The participants were taught basic tightening and strengthening of the pelvic floor muscles to increase blood flow and improve erectile function.
Another study on premature ejaculation also showed that a 12-week pelvic floor muscle rehabilitation can treat a common type of erectile dysfunction in younger men. The study concluded that 33 out of 40 men showed improvement in erectile function during sexual activity. (11)
All these factors play an important role in the therapeutic effects of premature ejaculation and other abnormal ejaculatory symptoms.
Key Takeaway: Multiple studies prove why Kegel exercises are important for men struggling with erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation.
8. Kegel Exercises Can Also Help Women Reduce Urinary Stress
A simple assessment of Kegel exercises in women struggling with stress and urinary incontinence proved why surgery is not the only option. An increase in stress coupled with urinary discomfort can lead to a wide range of problems including infections, inflammation, and even cancer.
After taking age, hormonal status, and weight into consideration, regular Kegel exercises might improve symptoms of stress incontinence in women. According to a simple study, 68% of women undergoing urinary stress incontinence reported improvement in overall pelvic and bladder health. (12)
This also helped improve the quality of life and mental health of women. Such significant changes caused by unsupervised Kegel exercises for women can be promising way to deal with both urinary stress incontinence and mixed incontinence.
Lastly, a separate study on stress incontinence showed that women over the age of 40 can lessen the symptoms of urinary stress and vaginal prolapse with better pelvic floor muscle rehabilitation. (13)
This paired with proper biofeedback therapy can promise striking vaginal and pelvic health results in a matter of weeks. While treating stress associated with bladder and prostate problems.
Key Takeaway: Multiple studies describe why Kegel exercises are important for older women with stress incontinence and mixed urinary incontinence. It helps reduce severe symptoms including uncontrollable urinary flow, bowel problems, and vaginal abnormalities.
9. Runners Can Benefit From Kegel Exercises To Reduce Pelvic Floor Disorders
Did you know marathon runners are at a higher risk of developing bladder problems? It’s not only about struggling with blisters, shin problems, and chafing. A recent study on marathon runners proved why Kegel exercises for pelvic floor disorders is a good thing.
Running for longer periods of time might cause two types of incontinence. Urinary stress incontinence and fecal incontinence. Plus, those who already struggle with any one of these problems face greater bladder control problems if they run.
Involuntary loss of urine, sneezing, and pelvic discomfort can make running more difficult. The study recognizes a direct link between long-distance running and pelvic floor disorders. (14)
Doing more Kegel exercises on an empty bladder before run paired with healthy eating habits can reduce risk of stress incontinence in runners. This can stimulate better urine excretion, causing the pelvic floor muscles to relax.
Key Takeaway: Kegel exercises might help marathon or long-distance runners to prevent urine leakage and pelvic discomfort. Runners also experience chronic bladder-control problems which can also be treated with regular Kegel exercises.
10. Kegel Exercises Are Considered Extremely Helpful For Treating Pelvic Pain And Bladder Dysfunction
Treating pelvic pain and dysfunction in a non-surgical manner is considered one of the best ways of treatment. People doing Kegel exercises on a daily basis are less likely to face bladder and bowel problems, a study suggests.
This study also determined that in every 3 women, 1 woman faced severe pelvic floor dysfunction symptoms. This also includes pelvic pain, muscle weakening, and constipation. The trial analyzed all factors responsible for improving pelvic floor dysfunction and determined that an increase in Kegel exercises can dramatically improve quality of life for women. (15)
That said, Kegel exercises tighten and relax the muscles surrounding the vagina and bladder. It also offers complete rehabilitation to proven urinary infections, defecatory dysfunction, bladder-control problems.
This alternative, non-surgical treatment for women can take reduce a higher intake of large doses of medication. Hence reducing the chances of surgery or electrogalvanic therapy treatments.
Key Takeaway: Studies suggest why Kegel exercises can help treat pelvic pain and urinary problems for women. It reduces weak muscles and stiffness caused by genetic factors.
Doing Them The Right Way - 8 Healthy Tips for Beginners
If you’ve decided to start doing more Kegel exercises, you’ve already taken your first step to improved bladder control and pelvic health. Kegel exercises help people with urinary tract infections, pelvic pain, constipation, and abnormal bowel problems.
So how to do Kegel exercises without injuring your pelvic muscles?
Steps to do proper Kegel exercises at home:
Find a comfortable seated, standing, and lying position. Position yourself in way that your abdominal and buttocks muscles are relaxed. The best way to practice Kegel exercises is lying flat on your back with your knees up and arms at your sides. Avoid straining your neck over your shoulders while doing the Kegel exercise. This might give you a headache and/or a neck pain.
Exert pressure on your pelvic floor muscles for a few seconds. This will help locate the right muscles without straining too much.
Release the pressure on the muscles for 10-12 seconds. And make sure you take deep breaths before you squeeze the muscles again. Taking a longer break helps reduce muscle soreness since you’re new to doing Kegel exercises.
Exert pressure on your pelvic floor muscles once again for 5-7 seconds. Followed by relaxing the muscles for another 10-12 minutes. Repeat this process 10 times. You can increase the number of reps after a few days. But it’s better to elevate endurance every 10 seconds at a time. Do this at least 3 times a day to complete the day’s routine.
As a warm-up, bring your knees up to your chest and squeeze for 5 seconds and relax for 10. You can even do different Kegel variations, but sticking to the basics is what brings the best results!
With that out of the way, let’s look at a few important fitness tips for beginners. This will help you get started with a stable Kegel exercise program.
1. Find The Right Muscles
To start your first Kegel exercise, finding the right muscle to target can be tricky. Especially when you’re at home without any supervision. There is a strict method to follow for both men and women when trying to find the right set of muscles.
Try squeezing the muscles responsible for stopping urine flow. You know when you try to control your pee, the muscles involved are necessary for a good and effective Kegel exercise. Another way is to tense the set of muscles that allow gas to pass from the anus. This is a reliable way to locate and target pelvic muscles for training. (16)
2. Keep Your Muscles Relaxed
It’s very important to relax your abdominal, buttocks, and leg muscles while doing Kegel exercises. All the pelvic floor muscles in the body contract and tighten almost at the same time when trying to stop urine flow or gas passing. These are the primary muscles responsible for controlling the bladder, vagina, and the rectum.
So keeping your muscles relaxed rather than tensed can make your Kegel exercise routine more effective. So targeting your thigh, upper and lower abdominal, and buttocks muscles to relax is the first step to strengthening the pelvic floor muscles. (17)
3. Keep Your Bladder Empty
Proper urine flow from the bladder is essential for doing Kegel exercises. Otherwise it causes urinary retention which is the incomplete emptying of the bladder. It can also lead to bladder infection or UTI if done wrong. That said, if there are some amounts of urine left in the bladder, the urine travels all the way to the kidneys causing severe bladder infection. (18)
So with proper bladder training and Kegel exercises can you train your pelvic floor muscles to promote a healthy flow of urine. You can empty your bladder by sitting in different body positions or squatting. This will help solve pelvic floor muscle problems and treat urinary incontinence in women.
4. Don’t Over-Exercise The Pelvic Floor Muscles
Most people jump right into a new exercise without track of time or intensity. This leads to muscle fatigue and soreness. And since Kegel exercises target vulnerable pelvic floor muscles, it might lead to excessive urine leakage.
A review suggests 10 reps of 10-second pelvic floor muscle exercises at least 3 times a day for beginners. Once your pelvic floor muscles get used to the new movement, you can increase either the number of reps or endurance. But over-exercising on the first day or week might do more harm than good. (19)
While Kegel exercises seem light and easily done, people often speed up the process to increase chances of recovery. But that isn’t a healthy way to exercise. Sometimes taking baby steps is what your body needs to improve bodily function.
5. Stay Hydrated
If you have an overactive bladder, it means you go to the bathroom more than you should. And pelvic pain and discomfort tag along due to tensed pelvic floor muscles. So at such times, doing your Kegel exercise requires you to stay hydrated. It prevents pelvic muscle fatigue and bladder obstruction after doing the Kegel exercises.
How do you know this? As your muscles get stronger while doing Kegel exercises, dehydration can cause the muscles to get stiff and inflexible. This makes your exercise routine harder than normal.
Also, studies suggest that hydration is the secret to reducing stress on the human body. This stress is associated with practicing new and intense exercises. (20)
6. Take Deep Breaths
As with physical exertion, taking deep breaths during and after physical exercise helps induce better flexibility. And with doing Kegel exercises, it increases the chances of relaxing the pelvic floor muscles. Kegel breathing, as one study suggests, improves technique and movement. The release and contract technique of Kegel exercises are only effective when accompanied by long and deep breath.
A correct Kegel breathing technique makes it easy to practice pelvic floor muscle exercises anywhere you want. You can do it at home, in the office, while brushing your teeth, or even while waiting. It can be done sitting down, lying down, or standing up. So breathing is very essential for a good Kegel exercise routine. (21)
To do this, inhale while releasing your muscles so this contracts the muscles when you exhale out. It’s the most natural and effective method of deep breathing during Kegel exercises. (22)
7. Don’t Forget To Stretch After Exercising
Most people think of stretching as a part of exercising. But studies suggest that stretching after exercise can reduce risk of muscle soreness and pain. This is important for beginners who are still unaware of how to do Kegel exercise correctly.
The study on muscle soreness proved that stretching activates certain nerve endings of muscle fibers. These act as receptors to prevent muscle damage on a cellular level. (23)
Another randomized study showed that muscle stretching after exercises helps reduce muscle soreness in healthy adults. So it can be said that doing Kegel exercises requires a follow-up session of muscle stretching to prevent muscle fatigue and soreness. (24)
8. Eat A Healthy Diet
Foods high in salt, fats, and other inflammatory markers might increase chances of urinary stress and bladder-control problems. What you feed your body is important for proper muscle and bone health. Studies suggest that at least 30 minutes of physical exercise on a daily basis paired with proper consumption of healthy foods can enhance bodily function.
So this also includes proper prostate and bladder health. Other times, a proper nutrition can deal with weight gain and nutrient deficiency which also contribute to bowel and bladder problems. (25)
9. You Can Also Use Training Aids
If you’re not getting the results you want from simple Kegel exercises, you can use specific training aids for it. But before you get in on this, seeking advice from a professional is essential. Training equipment like Kegel balls, vaginal cones for women, and biofeedback help alleviate pelvic dysfunction.
It helps in identifying a pelvic problem and helps strengthen the muscles to ensure you’re doing the Kegel exercises the right way. (26)
Sometimes, extremely weak pelvic floor muscles require such training aids for an effective exercise program. Using training aids also help you learn the right way and avoid common, often painful, mistakes. For example, a Kegel ball is a slightly heavyweight ball designed for women. It is inserted inside the vagina by hand to properly squeeze the muscles and prevent urinary leakage.
Lastly, biofeedback, which is a very common training aid helps stimulate proper pelvic muscle response. It is often paired with consistent Kegel exercises, especially for severe cases. This device when inserted can ensure you’re squeezing and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles in the right manner. But biofeedback can only be done under professional supervision.
Wrapping It Up
Exercising on a daily basis is the single-most powerful thing one can do to feel good and stay healthy. It prevents the development of so many diseases and improve mental health more than any other lifestyle habit.
So doing Kegel exercises a few minutes every day for a healthy bladder and prostate condition is a good way to go. Coupled with healthy eating habits and you might not need medication or surgical treatment for urinary incontinence, constipation, vaginismus, or erectile dysfunction. Kegel exercises are powerful for both men and women. They help relax and strengthen pelvic floor muscles and maintain proper urinary flow and control. Based on what I found, Kegel exercises also help heal tensed muscles during and after childbirth.
When you increase physical performance and eat healthy, your body will definitely respond in a positive manner. Hence doing Kegel exercises is important now more than ever!