Incontinence in elderly individuals is a fairly common issue and one that causes a great deal of embarrassment. There are several steps that a person can take to help strengthen urinary control; one of the most recommended is to strengthen the muscles that control urinary output through what are called Kegel exercises.
What are Kegel exercises?
Kegel exercises, also called pelvic floor exercises, are named after Arnold Kegel, the doctor who first described them back in 1948. Kegel exercises help to tone and strengthen the pubococcygeus muscles, which help to open and close the pathways that allow urine to flow.
How do you find these muscles?
In men, finding the right muscles is relatively easy. A man simply needs to concentrate on squeezing the muscles that he uses when he needs to interrupt the flow of urine. For a woman, it often helps to imagine that she is sitting on a marble and to imagine squeezing the muscles of her vagina in order to squeeze the marble.
How do you perform Kegel exercises?
Once you have located the appropriate muscles, work on squeezing just those muscles, not any of the other muscles in the area; for example, don’t squeeze your thigh muscles or other muscles in the legs. Don’t tighten your stomach or the buttocks either. It’s also important to just breathe normally; holding your breath is rarely a good idea when performing any exercise. Different individuals find different positions preferable; for many people, performing Kegels while lying down is best.
It’s usually a good idea to start small and work your way up. With that in mind, try squeezing the pelvic muscle and counting to three, then releasing for a count of three. Do this ten times. Relax for a minute or so, then repeat. Relax again, and repeat one more time. For many people, this is as much exercise as they can take; others may find that after a week or two, they can try adding another set or two of ten repetitions each.
It’s important to note that some people do not see results for several weeks; don’t be discouraged if it takes a while for the Kegels to “kick in” the way you want them to.
Fighting incontinence is elderly individuals can be challenging; strengthening the muscles responsible through Kegel exercises is definitely a route that should be considered.