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Kegel Workout

An exercise you've never heard of for a muscle you can't pronounce;
the payoffs can be huge.

The Pubococcygeal (PC) muscle isn't one that most personal trainers spend much time on; probably because it would take the better part of an hour to get through the correct pronunciation. But that shouldn't stop women who are interested in improving their sexual responsiveness and urinary tract control from shaping and toning it with a series of simple, private exercises.

In women, the PC muscle stretches across the pelvis, and plays a key role in regulating the movement of the urethra and vagina. Dr. Arnold Kegel, an obstetrician practicing in the 1940s, was the first to figure out that it could be strengthened just like any other muscle. It began when he noticed his post-partum patients had a recurring problem; after childbirth, many new mothers reported urinary incontinence. The cause, he found, was that the pelvic floor muscles in the abdomen had started to weaken with pregnancy and age, and needed to be exercised back into shape. Once the PC muscle was strengthened, Kegel assumed his patients would regain greater control over their incontinence.

He was right, but there was more to his techniques than he knew at the time. Urinary incontinence problems among his patients improved significantly. But the exercises became much more popular when sex experts recognized that performing them routinely increased many women's sexual pleasure during intercourse. The reason; the exercises tone muscles in the vagina, leading it to become narrower and creating a sensation of increased tightness during penetration.

Sound interesting?

Starting a Kegel routine doesn't require buying any videos or joining any gyms. The first step is locating your PC muscle. To find it, pretend you're urinating. Then try to stop and re-start the flow of urine. The movement that occurs in your abdomen is your PC muscle flexing.

Once you have control of it, the rest is simple. Try contracting your PC for one second and then relaxing it. Keep it up by repeating your contractions up to five times per set and doing at least ten sets per day. As you become more comfortable with the contractions, try holding them for up to three to five seconds. When you can hold for five seconds, keep going by contracting for up to ten seconds - or as long as your body will allow.

You won't be able to see your PC muscle contracting during your exercise, so neither will anyone else. You can do them at any time of the day, and nearly anywhere; at home on the couch, at work at your desk or standing in line at the supermarket. You can also do them with your spouse; men have PC muscles as well, and research has shown that for men with urinary continence problems, Kegel exercises can help them regain control too.

Stick with your Kegel routine for three months and you'll see a noticeable improvement in both your bladder control as well as your sexual response. Especially for women who have recently had, or are planning on having children, Kegel's can give you a workout you won't get anywhere else.

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