The What’s and How’s of Kegels
We exercise our arms, legs, abs and even our brain, but there are so many smaller and lesser known muscle groups that need your love as well. I’m sure you’ve heard of Kegels and PC muscles, but do you really know what they are and why you should exercise them?
If not, this is the guide for you! Here is your guide to Kegels – what they are, what they do and why you should do them!
What are Kegels
Kegels are a simple clench-and-release exercise used to strengthen the pelvic floor or PC (pubococcygeus) muscles. These are muscles found in both men and women that form a figure-eight shape around the vaginal and anal openings. The PC muscle controls the flow of urine, contracts during orgasm and ejaculation and helps with core stability.
They are part of a muscle group known as the levator ani that includes the PC, puborectalis and the iliococcygeus muscle. The iliococcygeus muscle is a thin muscle situated on either side of the pelvis. The puborectalis muscle is actually responsible for tail-wagging so, in humans, it’s pretty useless.
End science lesson.
The Benefits of Kegels
Kegel exercises, because they strengthen the muscles surrounding our sexual organs, can contribute to stronger orgasms and more control over sensation during sexual intercourse. For men, Kegels can improve erection and provide better control over ejaculation. For women, strengthening the PC muscles can help in achieving orgasm, increasing arousal and vaginal lubrication.
Kegels also have non-sexual physical benefits. For both men and women, stronger PC muscles can aid in improving urinary control and help to prevent urinary leakage. Any women who has given birth knows that from moment on any cough, sneeze or jump has to be performed with extreme caution, lest a leak happens during the most inconvenient times.
It’s likely that if you’ve ever been pregnant, you’ve been told to do Kegels. Not only does it help with the peeing thing, strengthening your PC muscles during pregnancy can help with an easier childbirth and quicker recovery. This is because Kegels help to build the muscles responsible for contracting the area around your vagina and uterus. If these muscles are strong, you will have easier control over positioning you baby into the birth position and pushing them out. The less stress placed on your body during this ordeal, the easier it will recover from it.
How to Do Kegels
First of all, you need to figure out where your PC muscles are. The easiest way to do this is to sit on the toilet with your legs slightly apart and stop the flow of urine while your peeing. Those muscles you are using to do this are your PC muscles. HOWEVER, do not use this is a regular Kegel exercise. If you continuously stop the flow of urine, you could end up with a urinary tract infection.
Another way to locate your PC muscles is to lay down and place your hands along your hip bone as if you are putting them in your pockets. Tighten the muscles in this area until you feel the ones under your hands contract. Try not to squeeze your bum muscles or hold your breath while doing this.
Now that you know where your PC muscles are, you can begin to exercise them:
The Ol’ Squeeze and Release
For men and women, this is the best way to strengthen those muscles. Simply tighten the muscles and hold for 5 seconds. Relax for 5 seconds. Do this 4-5 times in a row, working up to 10 second holds and 10 seconds relaxing. Aim for at least 10 repetitions 3 times a day.
For women, we have access to some pretty nifty equipment we can use to strengthen those PC muscles. I’m not talking huge pieces of gym equipment – on the contrary, the kinds of things you can use to perform Kegels are small and often indiscreet.
Kegel, or Ben-Wa, balls are small, hollow balls with small weights in them that you insert into your vagina. Once they are inside, the weights will jump around and cause your vaginal muscles to contract. The benefit of using Ben-Wa balls is that you really don’t have to focus or concentrate on performing the Kegels – your body will do it for you!