Kegel exercises aren’t just for women. Men can kegel too — and should. A kegel is an exercise to activate and strengthen the pelvic floor, which is the group of muscles that make up the foundation of your abdomen and help control the bladder, bowel, and sexual function. The muscles of the pelvic floor also work with the abdominal and back muscles to stabilize and support the spine. Since going to the bathroom, sex, and back support are all essential aspects of our lives, it’s crucial not to neglect these muscles. And almost everyone’s pelvic floor could use strengthening because we rarely work it, and because we sit so much, we throw the muscles that attach to our pelvis out of position.
Not being able to fire your lower ab muscles is another consequence of a weak pelvic floor. When the pelvic floor muscles are not in their optimal position, it can inhibit the ability of the lower abdominal muscles to work. If you want a six-pack, don’t ignore your pelvic floor. Clinically, I see weak pelvic floor muscles in many of my patients. This is usually due to the pelvis being out of alignment from poor body posture and positioning. If your pelvis is in a bad position that means your pelvic floor is in a bad position (remember, they’re connected).
Before we try to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, it’s important to make sure they’re in the ideal position first. As we said above, the pelvis is usually the culprit for this, so we need to start with some self-releases and stretches to get your hips in the right position. After that we can work on activating and strengthening the pelvic floor through exercises including, you guessed it, kegels.
Hip Flexor Release
For this release, use two lacrosse balls taped together.
- Lay on your stomach and place the double lacrosse ball just below your hip bone.
- Lean a tolerable amount of weight onto the lacrosse balls.
- Bend the knee on the side of the release back to a 90 degree angle.
- Swing your leg side to side in a tolerable range of motion.
- Hold for one minute on each side.
Hip Flexor Stretch
- Begin in split kneeling position (back knee down, front knee up) with the back knee on a soft pad.
- Forward knee should be directly above ankle with a 90-degree bend in knee.
- To begin stretch, shift weight forward into a lunge while keeping your torso tall and pelvis tucked under. The stretch should come from your pelvis and you should feel it in the front of the hip. Don't lean forward with your torso.
- To get a deeper stretch, bring the arm on the same side as your back leg up over your head, then side bend and twist your torso away from the leg being stretched.
- Hold for 30 second and perform three times on each side.
- Stand with feet hip-distance apart, toes and hips turned out 45 degrees. Squat with your weight in your heels.
- While squatting, try to move your knees out. Go as low as you can, then push back up through your heels. Repeat for three sets of 12 reps.
Kegel Ball Squeezes Three Ways
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. Place a small medicine ball in between knees. Your back should remain flat throughout this exercise.
- Contract your pelvic floor muscles, or kegel, and squeeze the ball, holding for three seconds. Repeat for 12 reps.
- Raise your hips off of the table by pushing up through your heels, Your butt should no longer be on the table. Hold for three seconds and repeat for 12 reps.
- Now bring your knees to chest slow and controlled so your feet are off of the table. Hold for three seconds and repeat for 12 reps.
- Perform up to three sets of each squeeze, and work up to squeezing for seven seconds.