Kegel exercises, named after Dr. Arnold Kegel of UCLA, help strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor.
Pelvic floor muscles act like a hammock and support the uterus, bowel and bladder. They also protect the entrances to the vagina, urethra and anus. They must be strong to prevent leaking, incontinence and prolapse (the slipping out of place of an organ).
Because of pregnancy, age, excess weight or neglect (i.e. lack of Kegal exercise), many women suffer from weak pelvic floor muscles. The result is distress or incontinence when they laugh, cough or sneeze.
Therefore, Kegels are recommended for all women and it’s never too early or too late to begin doing them, but the sooner the better.
For most women, the pelvic floor muscle is easy to locate. It’s the same muscle you contract when you’re trying to hold back from passing urine. You can isolate the muscle next time you urinate by stopping the flow when it first begins.
Once you’ve located the muscle, the basic Kegel exercise is to simply breathe deeply and slowly while you alternately tighten and relax the vaginal muscle (as if you were stopping the flow of urine). Do this up to 200 times a day. Be sure, though, not to contract your stomach or back muscles, nor move or tighten your leg or buttock muscles.
Since no one knows you’re doing Kegels, they can be done just about anywhere anytime. So make them a daily habit. Do them while sitting at business meetings, working on the computer, watching TV, washing dishes, standing in line at the grocery or brushing your teeth. You can even do Kegals during sexual intercourse. The point is to “just do it.”
Doing Kegels has many benefits. They’ll help eliminate embarrassing leaking when laughing or coughing, help prevent incontinence as you age and make pregnancy and child birth a lot easier, minimizing tears and episiotomies. Last but not least, Kegels will also enhance sexual pleasure for both you and your partner.
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