Kegel exercises are basically simple squeeze-and-release exercises that help strengthen your pelvic floor. The pelvis is the area between your hips that houses your reproductive organs.
Pelvic floor muscles are a group of muscles that support the bladder, control the flow of urine and control ejaculation during intercourse. There are three pelvic muscles in men:
- The bladder. This is a balloon-shaped muscle that holds your urine.
- Sphincter muscles. These muscles help in closing and opening the urethra. The urethra is the tube that drains urine from the bladder.
- Pelvic floor muscle. Another name for this muscle is pubococcygeus (pu-bo-kak-sije-us) also known as PC muscle. It supports the rectum and bladder and controls the flow of urine.
If your pelvic floor is weak, you will experience some problems, such as the inability to control your bladder or bowels.
Once you learn and master your Kegel exercises, you’ll be able to do them anytime, anywhere, whether you’re at home or standing in line at the bank.
Why should you do Kegel exercises?
Every man has a gland known as the prostate. The prostate gland is the size of a walnut. It lies below the bladder and encircles the upper part of the urethra. The urethra transports urine through the penis to the outside of the body. The prostate gland is surrounded by many muscles. These muscles weaken as a person ages or during treatment for prostate cancer. Weakness in the pelvic floor muscles can cause a person to leak urine – clinically known as incontinence. By strengthening your pelvic floor muscles, you will be able to control your bladder and urine flow. It’s important to note that strengthening your pelvic floor muscles takes some time, just like building your biceps or any other muscle in your body.
How to find the pelvic floor muscles in men
Most men have difficulty identifying the correct group of pelvic floor muscles. One way to locate your pelvic floor muscles is to insert a finger into your rectum and try to squeeze it. This must be done in such a way that you do not tighten the muscles in the thighs, buttocks or stomach.
Another way to get this done is by tensing the muscles that pass gas. If it still gives you trouble, practice stopping the flow of urine. Stopping the flow of urine is a good and reliable method of locating the pelvic floor muscles. But don’t try to make this a regular practice.
Men can also locate their pelvic floor muscles using biofeedback. If you still have difficulty locating your pelvic floor muscles on your own, make an appointment with your doctor.
4 Kegel exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor
Here’s the thing – the pelvic floor can be activated anytime, anywhere. However, it is also important to incorporate specific exercises that target and strengthen the pelvic floor muscles.
One way this is done is by categorizing the exercises for men with hypotonic pelvic floor muscles and those with hypertonic pelvic floor muscles.
Hypotonic means low-toned pelvic floor problems with the need to strengthen and improve strength and endurance.
1. Quickly flick Kegels
This exercise requires rapid contractions of the pelvic floor. This will activate and strengthen your pelvic floor to stop leaks when you cough or sneeze.
- Start by lying on the floor. Bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the floor. As you get more used to the exercise, you can try doing it in a standing or sitting position.
- Find your pelvic floor muscles using the tips described above.
- Exhale, pull your navel to your spine, quickly contract and release the muscles in your pelvic floor. Contract for at least one second before releasing.
- Breathe calmly throughout.
- Perform the quick flick 10 more times, then relax for 10 seconds. Try 2-3 sets.
2. Heel glides
Heel slides enhance pelvic floor contractions, even though they specifically target the deep abdominal muscles. Here’s how you do it:
- Start by lying on the floor. Bend your knees while placing the pelvis in a neutral position.
- Breathe deeply into your ribcage. Then you exhale through your mouth so that your ribs naturally compress.
- Pull your pelvic floor up, lock your core, and push your right heel away from you. Go as far as you can, but just be sure you don’t lose the connection you have with your deep core.
- Find the bottom position, inhale and return your leg to the starting position.
- Do 10 slides per side before switching to the other leg.
3. Toe notch (marches)
Like heel slides, toe taps build your core stability and improve pelvic floor contractions.
- Start by lying on the floor. Bend your knees and place the pelvis in a neutral position.
- Breathe into your ribcage and exhale through your mouth, allowing your ribs to naturally compress.
- Pull your pelvic floor up and lock your core
- Raise one leg slowly to tabletop position
- Slowly lower this leg to the starting position
- Repeat the movement while switching legs. There must be no pain in the lower back. Make sure you engage your core throughout the exercise.
- Change the legs a total of 10 – 20 times.
4. Happy baby position
Hypertonic exercises can be relaxing and lengthening for someone who has a tight or short pelvic floor.
The goal of a hypertonic pelvic floor muscle exercise is to lengthen and release your hypertonic muscles so that the contractions are more effective and the muscles can work more efficiently.
Recommended exercises include:
- Start by lying on the floor, then bend your knees
- Bring your knees to your stomach at a 90-degree angle while letting your soles face up.
- Grab and hold the inside or outside of your feet
- Open your knees until they widen slightly more than your torso. Then you pull your feet towards your armpits. Make sure your ankles are over your knees.
- Bend your heels, then move your feet into your hands. You can maintain this position for several seconds or gently rock from side to side.
Edwin Madison is a freelance health writer and the founder of No more PE. He has worked with leading B2B and B2C companies in the healthcare industry and his publications have been featured on Yahoo News, E27 and other leading websites.