The 5 Best Kegel Exercises

5 best Kegel exercises

Whether you’re trying to prevent prolapse after childbirth or if you already have symptoms, incorporating Kegel exercises into your daily routine is a great way to keep your body healthy and happy for years to come. Luckily, it’s also one of the easiest to do. No gyms or floor space necessary. Just practice while working, watching your favorite series, or even standing in line at the grocery store! But how do you do them? Or, if you’re already underway, what variations can you add to your exercises?

1. Basic Kegel Exercises - Slow Twitch Exercise

If you’re just starting out, the most important thing is to find and isolate the correct muscles. Some techniques for locating your pelvic floor muscles are:

  • Pretend you are trying to avoid passing gas
  • Pretend to tighten your vagina around a tampon
  • Pretend stopping midstream while urinating
  • Use a biofeedback device for guidance and initial assessment

Once you’ve located the muscles, it’s time to start exercising! The easiest way to start is on your back with your knees bent. 

  • Contract your pelvic floor muscles for 3 to 5 seconds.
  • Relax for 3 to 5 seconds.
  • Repeat the contract/relax cycle 10 times.

Try to avoid contracting  your abs, legs, or buttocks while doing the exercises, and remember to breathe! Start slow and steadily increase the length of contractions and repetitions throughout the day. Begin with 30 to 40 contractions per day, or however many you are comfortable with. Make sure to spread them out rather than doing them all at once. It’s important to respect relaxation time between contractions and to slowly increase the amount of sets per day.  

2. Quick Flick Kegels - Fast Twitch Exercise

Once you’re comfortable with basic Kegel exercises, it’s time to add a little variation. Once again, the easiest way to start is by lying on your back with your knees bent. Exhale, then contract for 1 second and release. Do 10 repetitions, then rest for 10 seconds. You can do 2 or 3 sets. And as always, remember to keep breathing!

As your pelvic floor muscles become stronger, feel free to increase the number of repetitions and sets per day. Quick flicks can be especially useful if you’re having trouble with urinary leakage while coughing or sneezing as they help activate the pelvic floor faster and stronger to prevent leakage. 

3. The Elevator

If you’re comfortable with regular Kegel exercises and are looking for a more challenging exercise, it might be time to try the elevator. Start by imagining the length of your vagina as an elevator shaft with the opening at the bottom and your uterus at the top. Begin contracting at the bottom and imagine lifting the elevator up as you contract towards your uterus. Then, slowly take the elevator back down by relaxing from the top down. You can add this exercise to your usual Kegel routine or do three sets of ten contractions per day. Once again, remember to avoid contracting your abs, legs, or buttocks and to maintain a steady breath. 

4. Change positions

When you’re confident that you’ve found the correct muscles and have mastered your Kegels lying down, it’s time to switch it up. Try exercising while sitting or standing. Learning to do Kegels in different positions makes it easier to incorporate them into your daily routine. If you’re into yoga or stretching, try doing a set of Kegels in tabletop position, or on all fours. If you’re having trouble remembering to do your exercises, you can write yourself a note in the bathroom and do a set after you brush your teeth. If you work at a desk, you can set yourself a reminder or practice Kegels while answering emails. Almost any time or place is a good opportunity to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. 

5. Try a Biofeedback Device

A biofeedback device or ‘trainer’ is a device that is inserted into the vagina. When you contract your pelvic floor muscles it uses precise pressure sensors to measure the force exerted by your pelvic floor muscles onto the probe. This can be a helpful tool for making sure you’re contracting the correct muscles. Some devices can also record your strength and progress over time, and help keep you on track. It can take about 6 to 8 weeks to feel noticeable improvement from Kegel exercises. Since modern biofeedback devices come with an app, they can help form Kegel exercises into a hardened habit for your everyday routine. Some apps even include games you can play with your pelvic floor muscles! 

If you think you might have some signs of prolapse, it’s best to check with your doctor to talk about treatment to make sure you’re doing what’s best for your health and road to recovery. 

While Kegel exercises are great and vital exercises for keeping your pelvic floor strong and healthy, make sure that they’re right for you.

If you know that you have any of the following conditions or have experience symptoms that resemble the following, please consult a medical professional before beginning any pelvic floor exercise program:

  • Recent history of recurrent urinary tract infection
  • Continuous urine loss or incomplete bladder voiding
  • Neurological issues such as reflex modifications, numbness, loss of sensitivity
  • Severe pelvic pain or muscle spasms, new pain after menopause, or the appearance of a mass or lump in the pelvis
  • Hematuria (blood in your urine), bleeding from the anus or bleeding after sexual intercourse
  • Prolapse or suspected prolapse, hypertonic pelvic floor, vaginismus 
Article written by
Dama Awadallah, Medical Doctor
Research assistant for the Mary S. Easton Center for Disease Research

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