Kegel exercises are designed to strengthen pelvic floor muscles in both men and women. One of the primary benefits of doing these exercises is that it can help improve urinary or fecal incontinence. It can also help women restore strength to muscles stretched during childbirth. If you don't do Kegel exercises correctly, you can actually do more harm than good.
Locate the correct muscle. Make a gesture like you are trying to hold back your urine or feces and notice the muscle you use. You should be able to find the muscle and squeeze it without assistance from your thigh or abdominal muscles. If you have to use those muscles, you are not isolating correctly and can add too much pressure to your Kegel muscle.
Hold the Kegel contraction for the proper length of time to avoid overdoing it. For the short routine, you should only hold the muscle for one second, then release. For the long routine, you hold it for 10 seconds. Holding the muscle for too long can damage it.
Relax your muscle for the proper amount of time. When doing the short program, you need to relax the muscle for one second, contract for one second then rest for one second. After five of these, you need to rest the muscle for a full 10 seconds. For the long program, you need to rest for 10 seconds, contract for 10 seconds and rest for 10 seconds. After 15 of these, rest for a full 30 seconds. If you are not resting the muscle enough you will be overdoing your Kegel exercises.
Monitor your urinary or fecal incontinence. If it doesn't improve or gets worse, you could be overdoing your Kegels or doing them incorrectly. Overdoing Kegels can do more damage to the muscle, making it less likely to hold back your urine or feces.
Do Kegels the proper amount of times per day. Perform either the short or long version as many as three times per day, but no more. If you are performing Kegels more than three times per day, you are overdoing it.
- Medical College of Wisconsin: A Guide to Pelvic Muscle Exercises
- The University of Maryland Medical Center: Kegel Exercises - An Overview