Heard about Pelvic Floor Exercises? Learn them ASAP!
There is a type of exercises that you have surely heard about, since they everyone's talking about them lately: the ones designed to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. The weakening of these muscles is due to many causes, regardless of the age of the woman. Pregnancy or childbirth, including reasons such as overweight or even certain surgeries, can put pressure on this area and hurt it. The result is an increased risk of loss of urine, problems in sexual intercourse or a higher risk of prolapse (organs descending down the pelvic cavity).
But keep calm, do not panic. One known skill that women have is that we are perfectly capable of doing several things at the same time. Well, these exercises, also called Kegel because they were designed by Dr. Arnold Kegel in 1940, are the perfect example of this, since they are a series of easy contractions that, once acquired a little practice, can be done while you're sitting at the computer working or even commuting back home. In fact, practicing them for 5 minutes a day is enough to make an important difference.
The first step to master this type of exercises is to know and identify the three muscles involved in them, which are: the ring that surrounds the anus, the ring that surrounds the vagina and the ring that surrounds the urethra, the latter is the one that controls the flow of urine. The best way to safely identify this musculature is to voluntarily stop the flow while urinating. But keep in mind that once the muscle is identified it is important not to perform the exercises during urination.
- Let’s start with some training:
To begin with, it is important to relax the abdominal muscles before performing the exercise. Then start by expelling air through your mouth slowly while you strongly squeeze the muscles described, as if you were trying to control the expulsion of urine. Keep this contraction for about 4 or 5 seconds and then relax the muscle for 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times.
Until you master the technique, it is preferable that you lie comfortably on your back with your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent. Then you can try doing the exercises also standing or sitting. In the latter case make sure that the chair is solid and step the soles of the feet on the floor firmly, keeping the knees slightly outwards.
- Kegel Exercises:
Now, when you have acquired some practice thanks to the training, it is time to start practicing the different types of contractions:
- The Slow exercise: it is performed by tensing the group of muscles of the pelvic floor pulling them upwards and keeping them contracted for five seconds. Then, relax for another five seconds. Repeat 10 times trying to progressively increase the time of contraction and relaxation. Start with 5 seconds in each case until you reach 20.
- The fast one: it's about performing the same contractions as in the previous exercise but without making any pauses, and as quickly as you can, until you get tired or reach about 3 minutes. Start by doing 10 repetitions four times a day, then keep going until you reach 50 repetitions per day.
- The elevator: this exercise requires some concentration, but it offers very good results. The vagina is a muscular tube with ring-shaped sections, arranged one above the other. Imagine that each section is a different floor of a building, and that when you tighten them an elevator goes up and down. Start climbing gently up to the first floor, hold the tension for a second, and go up to the second floor. Keep climbing as many floors as you can, preferably no more than five. To go down, also hold the tension for a second on each floor. When you’re done, relax the muscles completely for a few seconds. It is important that you do not forget to breathe slowly while you’re performing the exercise and that you do not use the help of the abdominal muscles.
- The wave: as its name suggests, it is about tightening and stretching the muscles describing a wave, first the ring that surrounds the urethra, then the one that surrounds the vagina and, finally, the one that surrounds the anus. Think that these muscles are arranged in the shape of an eight and tighten them from front to back, and then relax from back to front.
- Tips to perform the exercises properly:
- According to the Obstetrics and Gynecology Service of the San Carlos Public Hospital in Madrid, it is advisable to do this series of contractions 45 times each day. You can divide them into sets of 15 at different times of the day. It is a mistake to believe that its progress can be accelerated by increasing the number of repetitions and the frequency of exercise, since doing it in excess can cause muscle fatigue and be counterproductive.
- To exercise the area correctly, it is important to avoid contracting the abdominal muscles, buttocks and thighs while performing the exercise.
- The recommended minimum time during which to perform the exercises is four weeks, since the benefits are noticed in the long term. But it is advisable to acquire the habit of exercising this muscle so that you never stop doing it.
- In the case of those who already suffer from weakening in the area, it is advisable to perform the exercises every time an important physical effort that can cause urine loss is made.
- When starting to practice the exercises it is important to find a quiet environment that favors concentration and intimacy. Of course, when you acquire more ease and practice you can take advantage of everyday moments to perform the exercises, because nobody has to even realize that you are at it ;).