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Kegel exercises are exercises which work the pelvic floor muscles. They are often referred to as “kegels” because they were developed by Dr Arnold Kegel in the 1940s. The pelvic floor is a trampoline-like platform of muscles and tissue at the base of your pelvis which acts as the “bottom of the container” for your internal organs. Kegel exercises keep the “bottom of the container” strong.
Kegel exercises are designed to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles which have to be able to withstand any sudden increases in pressure within the abdominal cavity. For example, if you sneeze or have a coughing fit, the pelvic floor muscles have to react swiftly to ensure no leakage of urine. Research has shown that 87% of women who perform kegel exercises can significantly reduce or eliminate incontinence (Creager 2001).
My FREE step-by-step Guide to the Pelvic Floor will make sure that you know exactly how to do your pelvic floor exercises.
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The muscles in our body are made up of two types of fibres:
Kegel exercises must target both slow and fast twitch muscle fibres, so that the pelvic floor muscles can cope with their dual job: marathon runner and sprinter. Fast kegel exercises will strengthen the fast twitch muscle fibres, enabling your body to avoid “accidents” when dealing with sudden shocks to the system, whilst slow kegel exercises will improve the endurance of your pelvic floor. For a clear step-by-step explanation of how to do fast and slow pelvic floor exercises, just get yourself a copy of my FREE step-by-step Guide to the Pelvic Floor which you will find in the top right hand corner of this page.
I always say to new mums that when it comes to getting fit again after pregnancy, firm foundations must be built, and these solid foundations are as follows:
Strengthening your deep abdominals is key to postnatal fitness
With firm foundations in place you will be able to build fitness levels which not only take you back to pre-pregnancy levels but which far exceed the fitness you had before your pregnancy. If, on the other hand, you skip the foundations because you find it “boring”, because you want to “get on with real exercise”, because you want to “see results NOW”, you will be building a very shaky tower of fitness indeed and the results can be most unpleasant:
High impact exercise
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The short answer is “in as many different positions as possible”.
The longer answer is that after given birth it can be quite hard to get the pelvic floor up and running again because of all the stretching and weakening that these muscles have undergone. Given this, you will find it easier to work the pelvic floor lying down rather than sitting or standing – less weight bearing down, and the pull of gravity is not as strong. So if you are finding it hard to feel your pelvic floor working, have a go at your exercises whilst lying on your back or on your side. When doing kegel exercises on your side, make sure that you do the same number of kegels lying on the left and the right hand side so as to work the pelvic floor evenly. Once your pelvic floor is strong enough you can consider doing your kegel exercises in the following positions and situations:
As the saying goes, “patience is a virtue” and when it comes to pelvic floor exercises, they are no exception. Top pelvic floor expert, Kari Bo, recommends a minimum period of 15-20 weeks of exercises before an improvement may be seen. At a later stage, a reduced exercise programme can maintain reasonable levels of pelvic floor strength but if the kegel exercises are subsequently stopped, the muscles start to weaken again in 4-6 weeks. In short, keep up the good work!
So now’s the time to get your FREE step-by-step Guide to the Pelvic Floor so that you know exactly how to do your pelvic floor exercises. Just grab yourself a copy in the top right hand corner of this page.
Want to have an exercise programme which you know will really work and which also looks after your pelvic floor? My online postnatal Pilates and wellbeing programme does just that.
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