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Strengthening Your Pelvic Floor Muscles

By: Urology Care Foundation | Posted on: 20 Apr 2015

Kegel Exercises

Millions who suffer with urinary incontinence (leakage) feel like their bladder controls their lives. Control depends on muscles working together. This simple step can control your bladder!

Parts of the bladder control system

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health

When the bladder fills, the bladder muscles should be relaxed and the muscles around the urethra (the tube that urine passes through), called the pelvic floor muscles, should be tight. Exercises that strengthen these muscles can help prevent leakage and calm the urge to go. These are commonly called "Kegel" exercises, named after the doctor who developed them. They can help keep your pelvic floor muscles toned and may reduce your problems with leakage or frequent urges to urinate.

Strengthen your Pelvic Floor Muscles

Once you locate your pelvic floor muscles you are ready to begin. The exercise involves squeezing then relaxing your pelvic floor muscles. Squeeze the muscles for five seconds and then relax the muscles for five seconds. Be sure to take the time to relax between squeezes so that your muscles can rest before squeezing again. Each squeeze and relax counts as one repetition.

Each set of exercises should include three different positions: 10 repetitions lying down, 10 sitting, and 10 standing. Do one set in the morning and one set at night (or at least twice a day).

Control Your Pelvic Floor Muscles.

It may take some practice to learn to control your pelvic floor muscles. When doing the exercises, relax your body as much as possible and concentrate on your pelvic floor muscles. To avoid using your stomach muscles, rest your hand lightly on your belly as you squeeze your pelvic floor muscles. Be sure that you do not feel any movement of your stomach. Do not hold your breath.

To test whether you are tightening the wrong muscles, squeeze your pelvic floor muscles while sitting in front of a mirror. If you see that your body is moving up and down slightly, you are also using your buttocks or thigh muscles. When done properly, no one should be able to tell that you are squeezing your pelvic floor muscles - except for you.

Kegel Exercises

Image © 2003 Fairman Studios, LLC

How Often Should I Exercise?

Do your exercises often enough to make them a habit but at a minimum of 30 repetitions twice a day. Pelvic floor muscle support usually improves within 6 weeks after starting the exercises. Strengthening your pelvic floor is one step you can take to control your bladder. While incontinence and frequent sudden urges to go may be embarrassing to talk about, your health care provider can offer other treatment options that may provide further relief.

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