What the heck is a Kegel?
Many moons ago, Dr. Arnold Kegel created a pelvic floor exercise. How cool is that?! Wow, I should think of an important exercise to create and call it the Kaehler. To be continued...
As I was saying, the Kegel is an extremely important exercise that should be done daily. To perform a Kegel, you repeatedly contract and relax the muscles that make up the pelvic floor. Now, you might be wondering where that is. Someone told me a very defining story about the pelvic floor and why it is so important to keep strong. This story may help you understand a little more.
Imagine the core/trunk of your body and everything that is inside it: ovaries, colon, uterus, ureters, arteries, ligaments and all the organs above that. Not to mention that if you are overweight, then the added fat puts even more pressure on that little itty bitty pelvic floor. Now imagine the pelvic floor is the bottom of the paper bag like the ones you get from the grocery store. Fill that bag with groceries and then set the bag in a puddle of water. Go to pick up the bag and WHAMMO!!! You just wet your pants. Now do you know what I am talking about?
Typically with exercise, we think about how can can get a six-pack or a Kim Kardashian butt. However, wetting your pants when you sneeze or laugh too hard is not funny. Ironically, speaking of a Kardashian, Kris Jenner publicly spoke about her incontinence, so don't feel like you are free from that little drop of pee.
An aerobics instructor who I was very fond of when I was just starting out in the studio exercise world always wore black. Every time she finished teaching, she would change her workout clothes. I got to wondering, especially when she would teach back-to-back classes, why change? I finally asked her out of curiosity, since I would teach three to four classes in a row and would never think of changing. (Not much has changed since then thank goodness.) She replied with the most embarrassing story. Any time she did a jumping jack, she would pee.
What I know today is that this doesn't necessarily have to happen. You can do exercises that will help strengthen the pelvic floor. It is also another really good reason to lose the extra weight! Additionally, there are several tools that exist that can help with strengthening the muscles of the pelvic floor. Primarily these exercises may help control or reduce urinary incontinence. (Anything to not wear diapers!) However, keeping a strong pelvic floor will also help with childbirth.
On a side note, if you have been to a drug store lately and noticed the adult diaper section, it is now almost an entire row. I remember when there were just two kinds of adult diapers, one for men and one for women. The choices now are extraordinary: different colors, styles, absorbency, and let's hope to goodness they never come out with a g-string diaper. There must be a lot of weak pelvic floors out there!
To strengthen this area is easy. Finding the exact right spot might take a little practice, especially if your pelvic floor muscle is out of shape. Here is how you locate it. Imagine you have to go to the bathroom, number one that is, but you can't find a bathroom so you have to hold it. What you are doing is using the pelvic floor muscle called Pubococcygeus muscle. What you never want to do is practice this while you ARE peeing. This can cause bladder infections and a host of other "down there" problems, so practice this outside the bathroom.
The great thing about PC exercise (and no, that is not for "politically correct"), is that you can do them anywhere, anytime and no one will know you are doing them. My favorite advice is to take a small sticky note and put the number 25 on it. Every time you come to a stoplight, do your 25 Kegels. Just keep your note away from your important gauges. Could you imagine rear-ending someone? So sorry officer, I was doing my Kegels!
You can also do Kegel exercises while at your desk, talking on the phone, reading a book, surfing the web, or watching a movie or TV.
There are two basic kinds of Kegel exercises to do. The slow Kegel is where you squeeze and hold for five seconds and then relax. Continue the contractions for up to 15 times in a row. The quick Kegel is a quick squeeze and relax up to 20 times in a row. Make a goal of three sets each every day.
It is amazing how much strength as well as muscle isolation you will gain by doing these exercises. It is so important to do them every day. Set your phone for a Kegel alarm to remind you to squeeze. It won't take long to notice results, and in return, your diligence will hopefully keep you out of the diaper aisle.
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