Beyond The Squeeze: How To Do Kegels Correctly

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Kegel fitness exercises benefit birth, bladder control, sexual pleasure and pelvic muscle strength. Go beyond the silent squeeze, and fit Kegels into your workout routine.

Kegel exercises benefit sexual health, bladder control, pelvic muscle strength, and shorten birth recovery times. A basic Kegel exercise involves consciously squeezing and lifting the same muscles that control urine flow and bowl movements. But if you are bored or turned off by basic Kegels, consider including them in your regular fitness routine.

The silent squeeze is a private way to exercise a very private part of the body, and several sets of 10 to 12 squeezes should be done several times daily. Just imagine the act of eliminating, focus on that area, and pull those same sphincter muscles inward and upward. Doing Kegels is crucial for those with real incontinence issues, for women preparing for labor, and women healing after delivery. However, all that squeezing is easy to forget unless you find it appealing to leave notes around the house that say something catchy like "Count your Kegels."

Squeezing Kegels into your workout routine may be more preferable, and adding them to your floor work will ensure that they happen consistently. Kegels flow right into several inner-thigh exercises because of how the thighs and other core muscles are linked to the pelvic floor muscles. Some subtle additions to the following commonly known exercises will make kegels a regular part of your fitness regime.

The Plie Squat - Pronounced "plee-ay," this squat will tone and tighten your rear and side quarter panels. Your thighs and your fanny will both feel the up and down motion, and your pelvic floor will benefit from some extra concentration at the squat's peak. Stand tall with your feet very wide apart. Turn you toes out so they are angled the same direction as your knees. Holding a couple of dumbbells and doing some bicep curls or overhead presses so your hands are busy, too, is optional. One repetition consists of inhaling while bending your knees and sinking until you feel a gentle stretch in your thighs and then exhaling as you return to stand tall with your legs still wide. The Kegels come in as you come up out of the squat. Deliberately squeeze your thighs, and as you approach the top, imagine zipping your legs and pubic area together. Lift and clench inward, holding that inner thigh and inner pelvic flex for a moment before beginning another rep.

The Pilates Teaser - Based on the boat pose from yoga, this abdominal agonizer can also be a Kegel exercise if it is done with the knees pressed together. If pressing your knees together is impossible, then place a foam block or rolled towel between your knees. In a sitting position, pull your knees in and root your feet to the ground. Hold on behind your knees as you round your spine, leaning back and breathing out. Keep your knees together at all times. Inhale as you sit tall into perfect posture: chin up, chest up, shoulders back. Then exhale, drop your chin to your chest and round downward again. The focus is not how low you go, but how tightly you flex your abs and thighs at the bottom and how tall you can sit at the starting position. Do five or six repititons and work up to 10-12 as you get stronger.

The Shoulder Bridge - This yoga move will strengthen your back and butt, and as you do the Kegel portion of it, you will also be working your inner thighs. Start by laying on your back and planting your feet on the floor with your knees bent, almost like you are going to do a sit-up or a crunch. But keep your hands at your sides, palms pressing down into the floor as you lift your hips into the air. Close your eyes and relax your neck and head, keeping the flex focused in your bottom and lower back. Bring your feet and knees together and squeeze your knees and thighs together tightly, carrying the flex up into your crotch. It may help to pinch a piece of paper between your knees at first. If your joints complain with your knees pressed so closely, use a foam block or rolled towel between your knees. Hold the flex for a count of 5-10 and then lower your hips. You can also pulse the flex, tightening and releasing the Kegel without visibly opening and closing your legs. Pulse 5-10 times and then lower, rest and repeat.

Put it all together - Do the squats as you begin the cool-down phase of your workout, and do the Pilates teaser and shoulder bridge while you stretch and do abdominal work. These exercises should flow seamlessly into your routine, and they will help the flow of many other things such as sexual health, bladder control, perineal recovery, and more.

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Bethany Learn

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