The muscles of the pelvic floor, also known as the pubococcygeus muscles, support the internal organs of the lower abdomen, such as the bladder, uterus and bowels. Pelvic toning balls are devices that are designed to help with Kegel exercises to increase the strength of the pelvic floor. Pelvic toning balls are recommended by many sources, though a clinical study suggests that the effectiveness of these exercises may not be enhanced with other devices.
Weakening of the pelvic floor muscles, which can be due to childbirth, pregnancy, chronic constipation, age, obesity and other conditions, can cause the bladder and uterus to protrude into the vaginal canal, resulting in organ prolapse. Kegel exercises are designed to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles to prevent prolapse. However, it can be difficult to correctly identify and contract the pubococcygeus muscles to perform these exercises. The purpose of pelvic toning balls is to assist with this practice.
Pelvic Toning Balls
Pelvic toning balls, sometimes called Ben Wa or Kegel balls, are designed to assist with Kegel exercises. As the Smart Kegels website explains, these balls are weighted, so you will need to squeeze the muscles of your vagina and pelvic floor to keep them in place. The Women to Women website also notes that these balls provide resistance against muscle contraction, which was the basis for Kegel's original findings. One type of pelvic toning balls, called Smartballs, is made of silicone and is somewhat lighter than the traditional Ben Wa balls, but the balls still serve the same purpose. Regardless of the type of ball used, pelvic toning balls are designed to stimulate and increase the strength generated by Kegel exercises.
Using Pelvic Toning Balls
Pelvic toning balls are designed to be worn while you are upright, whether you are sitting, standing, walking or exercising. The balls do not work properly if you are horizontal, the Pelvic Floor Health website explains. Initially, Smart Kegels recommends wearing them for around 15 minutes each day as your pelvic floor muscles get stronger. As you progress, you can begin to wear them for several hours at a time. Pelvic Floor Health also notes that as your muscles strengthen, you may be able to use heavier pelvic toning balls.
No clinical studies have been performed on pelvic toning balls, so it is difficult to know how well they work. A study published in 1999 in the British Medical Journal found that Kegel exercises done alone were more effective than those done using electrostimulation or pelvic cones, two other techniques sometimes recommended to assist with Kegel exercises. However, this study did not test pelvic toning balls. In addition, these balls may make it easier for you to properly do Kegel exercises and gradually increase the strength of your pelvic floor muscles. You should talk to your gynecologist before beginning any form of pelvic floor muscle-strengthening program.