Kegel Exercises

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Improve your Pouch Functioning with Kegel Exercises

Following the pelvic pouch procedure, the average person at six months has between four to six movements a day. However, everyone's response is different. There is a period of adaptation with the pelvic pouch. The pouch has to learn to expand and hold onto stool and this takes time.

What are Kegel, or pelvic muscle, exercises?

Pelvic muscle exercises, also called Kegel or pelvic floor exercises, have been shown to improve mild to moderate urge and stress incontinence. When performed correctly, these exercises help to strengthen the muscles at your bladder outlet as well as your stool outlet. Through regular exercise you can build strength and endurance to help improve, regain, or maintain bladder and bowel control.

After pelvic pouch surgery, the pelvic floor muscles may become weakened. These muscles extend from the spine to the pubic bone. The pelvic floor muscles can be envisioned as a hammock with several gaps that allow for the birth canal as well as the passage of urine and feces. With surgery, these muscles can be stretched and weakened with resultant sagging of the hammock and enlargement of the gaps. These muscles should be strengthened by performing Kegel exercises.

To perform Kegel exercises, imagine that you need to hold back gas. Squeeze and lift the rectal area, and for women also the vaginal area, without tightening the buttocks or abdomen. When you first begin your exercise program, check yourself frequently by looking in a mirror or by placing your hands on your abdomen and buttocks to insure that you do not feel your abdomen, thighs, or buttocks move. If there is movement, continue to experiment until you have isolated the correct muscles of the pelvic floor.

Another technique used to help you identify the correct pelvic muscles is to attempt to stop or slow the flow of urine. While urinating, partially empty your bladder then try to stop or slow the flow of urine. Do not be discouraged if you are unable to stop or change the flow. Slowing the flow is a good start.

There are two type of Kegel exercises - Type 1 and 2 . The first exercise, type 1, works on the holding ability of the muscles. It is done by slowly tightening, lifting, and drawing in the pelvic floor muscles and holding them to a count of five. Concentrate on lifting the muscles and holding the contraction while progressing slowly over a period of weeks. The goal should be 10 seconds. Rest for 10 seconds between each contraction.

The second exercise, Type 2, is a quick contraction. The muscles are quickly tightened, lifted up, and let go. This works the muscles that control urine and stool flow.

Adapted from the National Association for Continence (NAFC).
www.nafc.org or phone # 1-800-BLADDER.

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