Help Me Rhonda: Kegels a helpful exercise for men and women
When I told my Pilates students at Lake Tahoe Community College they could earn extra credit if they brought in information about Kegel exercises, the only male student in the class took the opportunity to get a better grade and learn about an extremely important muscle group.
Most people don’t learn about “Kegels” until they attend a childbirth class. That’s when I learned. Kegels are a prescribed exercise for pregnant women to prepare the pelvic floor for the physiological stresses of pregnancy and childbirth.
I have taught every one of my clients how to focus on and strengthen their pelvic floor muscles just like they all learn proper form for a triceps dip.
Named after Dr. Arnold Kegel, this exercise consists of contracting and relaxing the pubococcygeus (PC) muscles of the pelvic floor (think of using the muscles to stop the flow of urine).
The pelvic floor muscles support the uterus, bladder and bowel. If you do Kegel exercises regularly and keep these muscles toned, you may reduce your risk of incontinence and similar problems as you get older. I have known several women who have suffered from vaginal or uterine prolapse. Studies show strengthening the pelvic floor can aid in preventing this.
Though most commonly used by women, men can benefit greatly from the use of these exercises. Kegel exercises may be beneficial in treating urinary incontinence and increase sexual gratification in men and women. Kegels can help men achieve stronger erections and gain greater control over ejaculation.
There are several types of equipment you can purchase to work this muscle group, but I always think the simpler, the better. You can perform Kegels anytime, anywhere without the need for devices. You just need to remember to do them daily.
For a more advanced version, I’ve developed a mat exercise I call the butterfly that all of my Pilates students have learned:
Lay on your back with knees bent and feet together.
Let your knees open to the sides. Inhale through your nose.
Imagine a thick band attached to each hip and it brings the bones closer to one another (toward the center of your body).
Perform your Kegel and pull your naval in as you exhale out your mouth.
Yes, it is a lot to think about all at once, but with practice you’ll be executing it with ease. Eventually you’ll feel that tight band which is your transversus abdominis contract.
Just as we strengthen other muscles in our body – biceps, hamstrings, abs and others – we need to take just a few minutes a day to ensure good tone even with the muscles that don’t get shown off in a swimming suit.
If you’d like to learn these exercises and much more, come to one or several of my free beginning Pilates classes: Noon, Feb. 22, 24 and 26 and March 1, 3 and 5; 9 a.m. Feb. 23, 25 and 27 and March 2, 4 and 6.
Beginning/intermediate classes are 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. Classes are at Sierra Athletic Club, 599 Tahoe Keys Blvd.
Rhonda Beckham is owner of Help Me Rhonda Personal Fitness Training. She is a nationally certified personal trainer operating out of Kahle Community Center and Sierra Athletic Club, and a Pilates instructor at Emerald Bay Physical Therapy. She may be reached at (530) 208-6369, http://www.TahoeTrainer.com and Rhonda@TahoeTrainer.com.
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