Ready to take your Kegel game to the next level? Our friend Marla is pretty much a Kegel expert who has shown lots of women how to teach their pelvic floors new tricks. Whether you’re a Kegel newbie or are already a pro, Marla’s got you covered with 10 tips to kick ’em up a notch.
Take it from here, Marla.
Sure, you’ve probably heard your doctor say “Do your Kegel exercises.” And while they seem easy enough, many of us women struggle to connect with this part of our bodies.
I know. I taught women to do Kegel exercises in a group setting, cuing them to squeeze and lift. Some ladies got it and stuck out the seven-week class. Others would attend a couple of times and quit, or give me a blank stare, or I’d look over and see them tilting their hips and pelvis.
Doing regular Kegel exercises helps reduce the urge to pee, leaks (i.e. incontinence), keep the pelvic organs lifted, and increase blood flow to the pelvic floor and vagina. The benefit: increased lubrication, arousal, and stronger orgasms. What woman is going to complain about that?
Due to a variety of issues — past surgeries or nerve damage, prolapse, big babies, excess weight, even being a virgin — Kegel exercises feel different to each of us. But for all of us, proper Kegeling involves connecting with your body. It’s a slight movement and it’s all internal. There should be no visual movement.
Here are 10 tips to make the most of your Kegel exercises:
1. Relax, Visualize, and Love Your Lady Parts
Before getting started, it’s essential that you make sure you are squeezing the right muscles.
Luckily, we had a detailed visual of a female pelvic floor in our classroom so I could show women that there are actual muscles down there. The pelvic floor muscles wrap firmly around the urethra, vagina, and anus in a figure-eight shape to keep these openings closed off and support the pelvic organs.
Think of it like a mini-trampoline or hammock made of firm muscle. The pelvic floor moves up and down and the muscles around those three openings are pliable. It’s the same area that stretches when you have a vaginal delivery, which is why many new moms struggle with leaks postpartum.
2. Empty Your Bladder
Feeling like you have to pee is annoying in itself, and you want to make sure you are comfortable and able to concentrate. Go to the bathroom before you begin Kegel exercises session.
3. Get Horizontal
It’s easiest to begin lying on your back with your feet flat on the floor, knees bent, and your spine in a comfortable, neutral position with the natural curve of the lower spine off the floor.
4. Make It A Waltz
Start out doing Kegel exercises to a waltz tempo. Squeeze and hold for up to 2-3 seconds, then relax for 2-3 seconds. Find a pace that works for you. It may help to say it out loud: “Squeeze and lift, rest, rest.”
5. Fast & Slow
There are exercises that strengthen both the fast- and slow-twitch muscle fibers, so you want to make sure you’re doing some combination of the two.
To strengthen the slow-twitch muscles, you need to do longer contractions. Squeeze and lift for 10 counts and then slowly relax for 10 counts.
6. Mix It Up
Once you start to get it down, try Kegel exercises in different positions: on your side, while standing, even in child’s pose.
7. Consistency Is Key
Aim for 4-6 sets of 10 short contractions once per day, and 6-8 long contractions. It breaks it up if you switch positions. For minor leaks or maintenance, once or twice a week may be all you need.
8. Imagine All The Kegel Exercises
If you’re still struggling, it may be helpful to use a visual cue:
- Imagine a sagging hammock tightening up as you squeeze and lift
- Imagine gently squeezing on a tampon or grape and pulling it up inside you
- Practice by sticking one or two fingers in your vagina and squeezing
- Imagine trying to stop the flow of urine or hold back gas
- Imagine an elevator slowly moving up one floor at a time, especially while counting to 10, and the same for coming down. The elevator shouldn’t come crashing down. Similar to doing a bicep curl, you want to slowly squeeze and lift and slowly relax. This is how you gain strength and control.
9. Anywhere & Everywhere
The beauty of doing Kegel exercises is that they can be done virtually anywhere – while sitting in traffic, doing dishes, at your desk, or in line at the grocery store.
10. Call For Back Up
Be sure to grab some great bladder leak pads for back up if you need it while you work to strengthen your pelvic floor. You can even get them delivered discreetly to your door from Lily Bird to save the hassle and embarrassment of heading to the store..
11. Watch Out For These Common Mistakes
- Don’t squeeze your glutes, tilt your pelvis, or contract your abs. If you feel your stomach or glutes move, you are using these muscles and not isolating your pelvic floor. Place your hands on your belly as a reminder. You can learn to exercise both together, but not until you get good at contracting your pelvic floor.
- Don’t squeeze as hard as you can. Contractions should be submaximal, think 8 out of 10.
- Don’t forget to fully relax after each contraction. Your pelvic floor can have spasms or tighten up after ongoing pain or other medical reasons. It’s meant to stretch, so it’s as important to relax this muscle as it is to squeeze it.
- Don’t overdo it. It’s not necessary to do 100 Kegel exercises a day.
- Don’t rush it. Give it time. After two to six weeks of regular Kegel exercises, you should start to notice improvement. And remember it’s something you have to keep up. In the meantime, make sure you have some great bladder leak pads for back up while you work to strengthen your muscles.
- Don’t start and stop your urine to test your muscle strength. This can confuse your bladder and cause more problems.
- Don’t use Kegel exercises if your pelvic floor is already too tight, which can also cause leaks, painful intercourse and pelvic floor disorder.
Want more Kegel basics? Check out this how-to guide on Kegels. Got a question about Kegel exercises? Ask it in the comments and we’ll help you out.
By Marla R. Miller. Marla is a professional writer and pelvic health educator who understands the frustrations of having an overactive bladder.