Kegel Instructions

Overview

Strengthening your pelvic floor muscles can help reduce urinary incontinence or at least help keep it from getting worse. Both men and women can do Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor. Since these muscles are completely internal, you can’t see them flex; you’ll need to use creative means to locate them. The advantage to exercising internal muscles is that you can do Kegels anywhere, at any time–driving in your car, on the ski slope or in a business meeting–and nobody else will know what you’re doing.

Step 1

Practice stopping your flow of urine. This will help you locate your pelvic floor muscles. This isn’t something you should practice frequently, so if you need to practice more than once or twice to locate the right muscles, place one or two fingers inside the vagina or anus and feel for the contraction around your finger that confirms you are using the right muscle.

Step 2

Practice squeezing the muscles you’ve now located in sets of 10 squeezes, working up to holding each squeeze for as long as 10 seconds. Make sure not to hold your breath during these contractions; focus on continuing to breathe normally. Counting squeeze length by breaths, instead of seconds, may help you remember to breathe.

Step 3

Build up to doing as many as four to eight sets of 10 squeezes throughout the day. Overworking your pelvic floor muscles may actually worsen incontinence instead of easing it, so be alert to the fact that these muscles can tire as easily as any other muscle in your body; if you’re no longer able to hold the contraction or experience pain or soreness during the effort, let your muscles rest until the soreness is gone before doing your next set.

Step 4

Mix in sets of Kegels while sitting, laying and standing as you progress. All three positions will help you strengthen your pelvic floor. You can also add in variations on the standard squeeze, such as performing quick, rhythmic squeezes as fast as you can, for as long as you can, or squeezing progressively harder for a slow count of 4 or 5, then releasing the contraction in stages for the same count.

Tips and Warnings

  • If you’re still having trouble locating your pelvic floor muscles, try imagining that you’re about to pass gas, then contracting your muscles to stop this from happening; you’ve just instinctively tightened your pelvic floor muscles.

About this Author

Marie Mulrooney has written professionally since 2001. Her diverse background includes numerous outdoor pursuits, personal training and linguistics. She studied mathematics at the University of Alaska Anchorage and contributes regularly to various online publications. Print publication credits include national magazines, poetry awards and long-lived columns about local outdoor adventures.