What are Kegel Exercises?
Pelvic muscle exercises (also known as Kegel exercises) are a type of exercise designed to strengthen the pelvic muscles around your bladder and penis.
They are of great benefit for men suffering from prostate problems, especially for those recovering after surgery for prostate cancer.
While commonly considered beneficial for women during childbirth, according to several studies, there are plenty of known benefits that these special exercises can provide, especially to men suffering from prostate problems such as BPH (Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia).
Why Do pelvic muscles become weak?
The pelvic floor muscles can be weakened by:
- surgery for an enlarged prostate gland.
- damage to the nerves of your pelvic floor muscles (by disease, injury, surgery or radiotherapy).
- continual straining to empty the bowels, usually due to constipation.
- persistent heavy lifting.
- a chronic cough, such as smoker’s cough or chronic bronchitis and asthma.
- being overweight.
- lack of general fitness.
What are the benefits of pelvic exercises?
Pelvic exercises host a range of health benefits for men, especially when it comes to prostate health.
The prostate gland can be found under the bladder, surrounding the urethra. The urethra is a tube that carries urine through the penis out of the body.
However, during prostate treatment, the muscles surrounding the prostate can become gradually weakened, resulting in urine leakage and even incontinence.
By building up you’re the strength of your prostate and pelvic muscles, you enjoy a number of benefits including:
1) Improved prostate health
During a Kegel exercise, there will be an increase in blood flow to the male sex organ. With these exercises, it can help to build up a healthy prostate while keeping all of the sexual organs functioning properly.
Male pelvic floor exercises may also help alleviate prostatitis symptoms. Male CPPS is difficult to treat and often requires a multimodal approach.
2) Prevents urinary and fecal incontinence
This is one of the most important benefits of Kegel exercises for men. Aside from preventing urine leakage, it also decreases the urge to urinate. Fecal incontinence will also be minimized. This is commonly recommended for men who had just undergone prostate surgery.
A study published in The American Journal of Men’s Health reviewed the effect of pelvic floor muscle training on incontinence problems after radical prostatectomy. The results found a significant difference was in the number of incontinence pads between the groups.
Significantly more members of the experimental group reported using “1–3 pads per week” or “4–6 per week” while more members of the control group used “more than 5 per week”. This suggests that PFME training strengthens the muscles and that bladder control can thus be acquired.
3) Improved sexual function
With Kegel exercises, it can make men’s erections last longer. This is beneficial to those who have sexual dysfunction. Kegel exercises can improve erectile function, control premature ejaculation, and also intensify orgasm in men.
How do I find my pelvic muscles?
For many men locating the pelvic muscles can be a struggle. To find your pelvic muscles try to stop and start your urine stream when urinating. Remember not to tense your buttocks or your legs and abdomen. Also, take note to keep breathing calmly.
When you have successfully slowed down or stopped your urine, you will be able to hit the target muscle. The muscles you use to stop your urine flow are your pelvic muscles, and these are the ones you want to strengthen.
How do I do a Kegel exercise?
Locating your pelvic muscles is the hard part. Now that you have located your pelvic floor muscles, you can exercise them by following these simple steps:
Tighten and hold your pelvic floor muscles for five seconds
Relax your pelvic muscles. You have just done one Kegel exercise. You should plan to do 10 to 20 Kegel exercises three to four times each day.
5 Pelvic Exercises
To complete this pelvic muscle exercise, you need to lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart.
Inhale engage your pelvic floor and lift your hips. Hold for up to 10 seconds (keep breathing!). Lower your hips back down and release your pelvic floor. Do 10 reps of this.
2) Wall Squat
Some people might struggle with squats, especially if they are older, so another alternative is wall squats.
To do this exercise, stand against a wall, feet hip-width apart. Inhale engage your pelvic floor and lower yourself into a squat as though sitting in a chair. Hold for 10 seconds. Rise back up to standing and release your pelvic floor. Rest for 10 seconds. That’s one rep. Do 10.
Lunges work out your whole body. Not only do they improve your core muscles, but they help to improve hip flexibility and balance. It also helps to strengthen the abdominal and lower back muscles, reducing the chance of back pain and strain.
To do this exercise stand straight with your toes facing forward and your feet spaced one foot apart. Step forward with one leg, lowering your hips until both knees are bent at about a 90-degree angle.
4) Single Leg Tabletop
This is a common leg movement popular in Pilates workouts. By adding the spilt movement you work out your hip, as well as pelvic floor muscles.
To do this exercise lie on your back with your knees bent so that your thighs and shins are perpendicular to the floor. In a controlled movement slowly begin to split your legs outward. Slowly raise back to the start. You should complete 10-15 reps.
5) Leg Lever
Leg levels are a great way to target your core, helping to work out abdominal muscles and decrease belly fat. To do this exercise lie on your back and lift your stretched legs until they are in a vertical position. Tense your legs and lower them back to the ground.
Pelvic muscle exercises: The results
Like any other exercise, it takes time. Do not expect miracle results straight away. Completing these exercises requires commitment, and setting aside 30 minutes a day could make a significant improvement to your health.
Once you have already mastered the technique on how to do it the right way and you are already following the three times a day frequency, you should be able to see an improvement in your bladder control. The improvements may show on the third or sixth week.
It is best if you keep a record and monitor your urine leakage on a daily basis to help keep track of your improvement.
If one month passes and you don’t see any changes in the results, this means that you may not have located the correct muscles. If this happens, inform your urologist right away so you can be advised on how to hit the correct muscles successfully.