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Kegel Exercises

Kegel exercises are exercises that strengthen and tone the muscles of the pelvic floor.

The pubococcygeus, or PC muscle, is the main muscle of the pelvic floor that surrounds the openings of the urethra, the vagina and rectum, providing sphincter control.

It is a hammock-like muscle, extending from the pubic bone to the coccyx, which forms the the floor of the pelvic cavity and supports the pelvic organs.

It is part of the levator ani group of muscles. At you will find a diagram showing exactly where the pelvic floor muscles lie.

These exercises are named after Dr. Arnold Kegel who devised them.

Why Do Pelvic Floor Exercises?

Muscles that are repeatedly exercised become more elastic and well-toned. They will stretch more easily if they are strong and flexible.

With practice you will become aware of how to contract and relax the muscles of the pelvic floor.

During labor, the pelvic floor will stretch as the baby progresses down the birth canal. A tense or rigid pelvic floor may slow down the birth of your baby, so it is important to be able to relax this muscle.

There are many folds of skin called ruggae inside the vagina that enable it also to stretch considerably, like a concertina file, during the process of giving birth. Kegel exercises will help the vaginal muscles return to normal after your birth.

More Benefits of Exercising the Pelvic Floor

  • prevents urinary incontinence
  • greater sexual pleasure
  • reduces incidence of prolapsed uterus and other pelvic organs
  • less back-ache as a strong pelvic floor helps to maintain good posture
  • less chance of hemorrhoids
  • may reduce the chances of tearing or needing an episiotomy
  • faster perineal healing in the case of a tear or episiotomy
Pelvic floor exercises should become a life-long habit, not only an exercise during pregnancy.

How to do Kegel Exercises

Identify the PC Muscle
  1. To identify the PC muscle, try stopping the flow of urine when you are sitting on the toilet. Stop, then release, then stop again. The muscle you use to do this is the PC muscle.
  2. Alternatively, pretend you are squeezing a tampon tightly, then release. Squeeze and release a few times so that you can learn to contract and relax the muscle.
  3. Do not tighten the muscles of the buttocks or inner thigh while you are doing this. If you are doing the kegel exercises correctly, no one will be able to tell that you are doing them.

Basic Kegels

Anytime you are sitting comfortably, you can do the following:

  1. Contract the pelvic floor muscles by pulling them upwards. Pause and hold for 10 seconds.
  2. Slowly release the muscles.
  3. Release the muscles further imagining that they are bulging downward.

Do two sets of five exercises up to 10 times a day, rather than a long session of exercises less frequently.

  1. Imagine that your pelvic floor is a lift. Draw up the muscle and pause at each 'floor' going up and then go down again. Go down to the basement to reach the lowest point before returning to the normal position at 'ground floor' level.
  2. Perform a series of fast contractions as this uses the fast twitch muscle fibres. Then do a slow set to use the slow twitch muscle fibres.
  3. Try doing the pelvic floor exercises in a squatting position.


Do a set of kegels at the following times:

  • each time you stop at a traffic light
  • each time you talk on the phone
  • each time you stand in a queue
  • each time you urinate

More Pages Related to the Kegel Exercises

Tips to Avoid Episiotomy and Tearing

The Amazing Female Pelvis

Perineal Massage

Exercise During Pregnancy


Hay-Smith J, Mørkved S, Fairbrother KA, Herbison GP. Pelvic floor muscle training for prevention and treatment of urinary and faecal incontinence in antenatal and postnatal women. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2008, Issue 4. Art. No.: CD007471. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD007471

ACOG Education Pamphlet AP081 -- Urinary Incontinence,, retrieved 19 September 2010

ACOG Education Pamphlet AP012 -- Pelvic Support Problems,, retrieved 19 September 2010

ACOG Education Pamphlet AP131 -- Getting in Shape After Your Baby ...,, retrieved 19 September 2010


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