Exercises are mostly gender neutral except for a very few that are confined to men due to their extreme need of stamina or strength (this is rarest of the rare!). Women too share their piece of cake where one set of exercises have been restricted only to them-Kegel exercises. It would be smarter to reconsider it as men too would definitely find these exercises to be helpful, especially as they age.
Kegel exercise or pelvic floor exercise consists of repeatedly tightening and relaxing the muscles that are a part of the pelvic floor. In simple words, Kegel exercise is like pretending you need to urinate and then holding it back. They are usually performed to reduce premature ejaculation in men and by women after childbirth to reduce urinary stress incontinence.
The main trick is to find the right muscle to relax and contract. For this, next time you urinate, start urinating and then stop midway. Feel the muscles in your vagina (women), bladder and anus tighten and move up-these are your pelvic floor muscles. Tightening is an indication that you are doing your exercise right. The biggest advantage with kegel exercises is that they can be performed anywhere and anytime-lying down, sitting, eating, driving, at the movies or while watching television. Hence, there is no possibility of giving excuses such as lack of time, place or energy to perform these exercises.
Our pelvic floor area is composed of thin layers of muscle and tissues that stretch like a sling from the tailbone to the pubic bone. This muscle is involved in various important tasks-it supports the abdomen, colon and bladder and helps with urine and bowel movements. This muscle gets activated during orgasm, erection and ejaculations in men. Pelvic floor muscles might become too weak or too tight due to factors such as age along with other factors such as bladder, bowel or prostate surgery, constipation and chronic coughing from conditions such as asthma, bronchitis and smoking. Pregnancy, childbirth, overweight and caesarian surgery can also weaken these muscles. Such weakened muscles can lead to urine leaks when you cough, sneeze or lift a heavy object. Tight pelvic muscles can be due to sitting continuously for a long time, muscle tension and stress or problems with the back and hips. Such tightened muscle aggravates pelvic pain, increases urination frequency, leakage or incomplete urination. Pain during and after intercourse or pain in genitals, low back or hips can also occur.
Kegel Exercises in Men
Men do have problems with these pelvic floor muscles such as urinary leakage, bowel issues and erection problems. Urinary incontinence in men is primarily due to a weak urinary sphincter due to reasons such as prostate cancer surgery, overactive bladder or uncontrolled bladder output. Kegel exercises come to your rescue here and help in improving bladder control. Read more on urinary incontinence and ways to control it from the website www.firsteatright.com. Before doing any exercise the first step is to locate the right muscle:
Find the right muscle: Stop urinating midway and tighten the muscles that keep you from passing gas. Squeezing these muscles makes you realize that you have hit right on the target muscle. Once you have identified your target proceed with the exercises in any position. It is advisable to do it while lying down during the initial days as it is easier for the individual.
Attain perfection: Tighten the muscles, hold them for three seconds and then relax for three seconds. Do it for multiple times in a given period and when you feel your muscles getting stronger, do it while sitting, standing or walking.
Do it the correct way: Tighten only your pelvic floor muscles avoiding flexing your abdomen, thigh or buttocks muscle. Try to breathe as freely as possible while performing the exercise. Do at least 10 repetitions thrice a day. Ensure to avoid using Kegel exercises to stop or start your urine stream as some doctors doubt that it might lead to bladder infection.
There is no right time or right place to perform these exercises as they can be done anytime and anywhere. But, it is always advisable to follow certain disciplined practices to avoid missing out on these exercises. Make Kegel exercises a part of your daily routine by:
Even before practicing Kegel it is advisable to meet a physical therapist who can design a tailor-made program for you. The therapist suggests on your ‘hold’ time, teaches you how to perform the Kegels and helps you with the number of repetitions and sets. To benefit completely, it is advisable to make these exercise sets a regular part of your daily routine permanently.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.