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Kegel Exercises

(Pelvic Muscle Strengthening Exercises)

Kegel exercises were originally developed as a method of controlling incontinence
in women following childbirth. These exercises are now recommended for women with
urinary stress incontinence, some men who have urinary incontinence after prostate
surgery, and people who have fecal (stool) incontinence.

The principle behind Kegel exercises is to strengthen the muscles of the pelvic
floor, thereby improving the urethral and/or rectal sphincter function. The success
of Kegel exercises depends on proper technique and adherence to a regular exercise
program.

Some people have difficulty identifying and isolating the muscles of the pelvic
floor. Care must be taken to learn to contract the correct muscles. Typically, most
people contract the abdominal or thigh muscles, while not even working the pelvic
floor muscles. Several techniques exist to help the incontinent person identify
the correct muscles.

One approach is to sit on the toilet and start to urinate. Try to stop the flow
of the urine midstream by contracting your pelvic floor muscles. Repeat this action
several times until you become familiar with the feel of contracting the correct
group of muscles. Do not contract your abdominal, thigh, or buttocks muscles while
performing the exercise.

Another approach to help you identify the correct muscle group is to insert a finger
into the vagina (in women), or rectum (in men). You should then try to tighten the
muscles around your finger as if holding back the urine. The abdominal and thigh
muscles should remain relaxed. Women may also strengthen these muscles by using
a vaginal cone, which is a weighted device that is inserted into the vagina. The
women should then try to contract the pelvic floor muscles in an effort to hold
the device in place.

For those people who are unsure if they are performing the procedure correctly,
biofeedback and electrical stimulation may be used to help you identify the correct
muscle group to work. Biofeedback is a method of positive reinforcement. Electrodes
are placed on your abdomen and along the anal area. Some therapists place a sensor
in the vagina in women or anus in men, to monitor contraction of the pelvic floor
muscles. A monitor will display a graph showing which muscles are contracting and
which are at rest. The therapist can help you identify the correct muscles for performing
Kegel exercises.

Electrical stimulation involves using low-voltage electric current to stimulate
the correct group of muscles. The current may be delivered using an anal or vaginal
probe. The electrical stimulation therapy may be performed in the clinic or at home.
Treatment sessions usually last 20 minutes and may be performed every 1 to 4 days.
Some clinical studies have shown promising results in treating urge incontinence
with electrical stimulation.

PERFORMING PELVIC FLOOR EXERCISES:

  1. Begin by emptying your bladder.
  2. Tighten the pelvic floor muscles and hold for a count of 10.
  3. Relax the muscle completely for a count of 10.
  4. Perform 10 exercises, three times a day (morning, afternoon, and night).