By Riva Preil
Okay, folks: it’s time for a game of free word association. What is the first thing that comes to mind when I say the word “Kegel”? If your response was “women”, “pregnancy”, or “incontinence”, you would be in very good company. However, if your response was “male” or “prostatectomy,” you receive extra credit. That is because KEGELS ARE NOT JUST FOR WOMEN: men can benefit from Kegels, or pelvic floor muscle strengthening exercises, as well.
Research has already proven that Kegels facilitate restoration of strength and continence in males post -prostatectomy, and that even one session of biofeedback pre-surgery with proper instruction of home exercises resulted in quicker recovery with decreased incontinent severity. Recently, a study was performed to help delineate clearer pre-op guidelines and recommendations. The study was published in The International Journal of Urology, and it consisted of a control group (132 males) and an experimental group (152 males). The men in the control group were given verbal instructions by their surgeon on how to perform Kegels daily prior to the surgery. On the other hand, the experimental group met with a physical therapist who educated them on pelvic floor anatomy, instructed them on proper performance of Kegels in various functional positions and activities (ex. coughing and squatting), and educated patients on how to avoid abdominal substitution. This was achieved by using transabdominal ultrasound. The males in the experimental group were encouraged to perform a home exercise program of 10 repetitions of 10 second endurance contractions in supine, sitting, and standing positions. All males received the same pelvic floor physical therapy treatments following the surgery. The researchers concluded that males who received P.T. guided pelvic floor training prior to surgery recovered 28% faster than those in the control group. In other words, investing the time and energy to participate in a pelvic floor strengthening program prior to surgery resulted in faster return to continence post-surgery. Take advantage of the research! If you or someone you know is scheduled to undergo prostate surgery, please call us at Beyond Basics Physical Therapy to give us the opportunity to assist your healing process. We would be honored to help!