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Pelvic floor muscles are left outside of most fitness and gym programs. There are specially designed workout routines known as Kegel exercises that target them. Kegel balls are a purpose-designed piece of equipment designed to help women exercise and strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. Below, you will learn about their benefits and find everything you need to know about Kegel exercises.
A kegel is a reference to either Arnold Henry Kegel, Kegel Excersises, or Kegel Balls.
Was an American gynecologist who invented the Kegel exercises in the 1940s as a non-surgical treatment of urinary incontinence, and weakened vaginal and or perineal muscles. (1)
Henery also invented the Kegel perineometer or vaginal manometer, which is an instrument used to measure the strength of voluntary contractions of the pelvic floor muscles.
Kegel exercises strengthen the pelvic floor muscles in both men and women, which support the bladder, uterus, small intestine and rectum. You can do Kegel exercises (also known as pelvic floor strengthening training) any time throughout your day.
They are developed to improve the health of the urinary and gastrointestinal systems (2).
These exercises help make the pelvic floor muscles stronger, thus helping you ward off incontinence and get better support for the bladder.
Kegel exercises also improve sexual function in both men and women. They essentially tighten everything "downstairs", making your sexual bits and pieces stronger.
Are you wondering what pelvis is? It’s the area between your hips. It holds reproductive organs, bladder, and rectum in place.
These muscles resemble slings and extend from the inside of the pubic bone to the anus. They are also are woven around the rectum, vagina, and urethra.
Their primary purpose is to help control the contractions of the bladder muscle (the detrusor muscle) and the pressure on the urethra.
When pelvic muscles are contracted, the lower urethra is closed. This action helps the remaining urine get back into the bladder. Their relaxation is what helps us urinate and consciously stop the stream of urine.
Kegel exercises help us maintain or restore the pelvic floor muscle function. When done correctly, these exercises can lessen or altogether remove the symptoms of incontinence.
Kegels exercises have become very popular as they don’t require additional space (can be done in your house or apartment), and you can do them without investing in fancy equipment. They are equally popular among men and women.
They might appear way too simple and easy to include in a daily workout routine. But consciously targeting the pelvic floor muscles to exercise is not that easy.
One has to learn the proper technique and build the mind-muscle connection over time to experience all the benefits Kegels bring to the table.
Did you know that there are 700 muscles in the human body? Some of them are constantly in use, while the others sit idle until we need them to spring into action. But there are some groups of muscles that we rarely use.
Since they are very rarely put to use, these muscles tend to grow thinner and lose strength over time, or they can become too tight and cause a variety of problems. One group of muscles is particularly exposed to this risk – pelvic floor muscles.
Both men and women can perform kegel exercises. The following section will focus specifically on how to do kegel exercises for women.
If you would like to know more about how to perform these exercises for men, then check out this article.
Most people prefer doing Kegel exercises while lying down on a bed, soft carpet, laying on a yoga mat or sitting in a chair.
Get into a comfortable position so your body is relaxed.
Once you have learnt the following steps, you will be able to do them in any position and in any place. (eg: standing up or waiting in a line at a supermarket).
Once you are in position, follow these steps:
It’s very important to fully relax between each contraction and make sure that you don’t hold your breath. Always spend the same amount of time (or longer) relaxed as you do contracting.
There are various factors that can contribute to the weakening of the pelvic floor muscles in women. These include aging, excessive straining from chronic coughing or constipation, being overweight, and pregnancy and childbirth.
Kegel exercises can help women who are experiencing:
Here is a helpful video showing you how to peform these excersies:
While there are many benefits of maintaining a regular Kegel exercise routine, we would like to point out the most important benefits for men and women.
We will skip the ones already covered above – improved bladder control and improved symptoms of fecal incontinence in both men and women.
During pregnancy, pelvic muscles have to deal with a lot of pressure. It doesn’t matter whether a woman delivers a baby vaginally or by cesarean.
The pelvic floor muscles suffer and doing Kegels during and after pregnancy helps keep them in good shape. It’s essential to consult your doctor about doing Kegels during pregnancy. (5)
Doing Kegels regularly makes the vagina tighter. This makes sex great for both you and your partner.
Since pelvic floor muscles are vital for a good vaginal orgasm, you will feel the benefits as well. The pleasurable contractions will be longer, more intense, and satisfying.
Kegels strengthen your pelvic floor. This provides extra support for the lower back and abdominal muscles. Doing Kegels regularly will help you improve overall fitness, feel energized, and be ready for everyday physical challenges.
When pelvic floor muscles are not strong enough, one or more pelvic organs can press the walls of the vagina. This condition is called Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP), and it can cause pain and lead to issues with the bowel and bladder.
POP is prevalent in women who are older than 50 years and those that are on their third birth or more. (6)
Kegels balls, also known as Ben Wa balls or pleasure balls, are a type of sex toy designed to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. These small weighted balls are inserted into the vagina and help you easily target and contract pelvic muscles.
These devices also called a love egg or a love ball, are either a single ball or a double ball with a cord or string at one end.
Inside each ball is a second ball or weight. These weights move around inside the vagina making you tense your vaginal and pelvic floor muscle. Many women enjoy the sensations these love balls produce, like sexual stimulation, which can cause intense orgasms.
They are usually made from material like high-grade silicone, body-safe plastic or metal.
The cord at the end of the balls makes it easy to remove the balls once you are finished with them.
They are designed to help strengthen the pelvic floor and vaginal muscles. (7)
At first, Ben Wa balls were used for sexual pleasure, and in the eastern corners of the world, they are known as geisha balls. It’s not by chance that they are called Kegel balls as well. They can be used for pelvic exercises. Kegel balls add extra weight and make traditional Kegel exercises even more effective.
Best practices to properly use kegel balls for pelvic muscles strengthening:
They come in different sizes and weights to help you easily target and contract pelvic muscles. Before using Kegel balls, you should prepare them:
Kegel balls come in different weights and sizes. The bigger and lighter the balls, the easier it is to hold them up in the vaginal canal.
Tip: The best balls for beginners are the larger and lighter balls.
As your strength improves you can move to smaller and heavier balls.
Some balls are made from solid metal and are quite heavy. These are recommended for the more experienced.
Although invented more than 60 years ago, Kegel exercises are still relevant in the modern-day and age. These exercises are very easy to master, and they offer plenty of benefits for both men and women.
Doing Kegels every day will improve your bladder control, sexual life, and overall fitness.