Kegels aren’t just for ladies— here’s why you should be doing regular pelvic floor exercises
If you’ve been diagnosed with weak pelvic floor muscles, there are luckily a few ways to resolve the issue. Dr. Sandra Hilton, PT, DPT, is a doctor of physical therapy at Entropy Physiotherapy and Wellness in Chicago, Illinois; she’s been working in the area of men’s health and sexual dysfunction since 1986. She says pelvic floor muscles have a remarkable ability to regain strength, coordination, flexibility, and stamina. “Fluid, flexible, and strong muscles make squatting, sitting, walking, and sex more enjoyable,” she says.
The first thing you should do? Try Kegel exercises, which tighten the muscles of the pelvic floor. While Kegels are perhaps most often associated with women (particularly those who have just given birth), they can also be tremendously beneficial to men to improve bladder and bowel control and sexual performance. There’s also some evidence to indicate that they can help men with erectile dysfunction.
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Although Kegels are fairly simple to do, many people do them incorrectly, Hilton says. “The mistakes about Kegels are usually from poor form—you might be using a lot of abdominals, holding your breath, and squeezing your gluteals or adductors (inner thighs) instead of the pelvic muscles,” she says.
To isolate the muscles of the pelvic floor, Hilton suggests standing naked in front of a mirror. Without using your hands, try to lift your testicles by engaging the muscles of the pelvic floor. Visualize “lifting your nuts to your guts” or “shortening your penis.” When you do this, you should observe a lift of your penis or testicles. Another way to locate the pelvic floor is to clench your sphincter muscles and pretend you’re trying not to pass gas. This tightening motion lifts the posterior aspect of the pelvic muscles.
When doing Kegels, Hilton says, try not to hold your breath or contract additional muscles. Hold the contraction for the count of five. Then relax the muscles for five seconds as well. Complete 10-20 repetitions three to four times a day (or as directed by your healthcare provider).
While Kegels are an effective way to strengthen pelvic floor muscles, functional fitness can do the trick as well. “Doing squats, jumping, running, and having an orgasm are all possible ways to get fitness into the pelvic muscles,” says Hilton. “Keeping our muscles strong and flexible is good for health. The whole body needs it, including the pelvic floor!”