Hey ladies! Let’s take back control of our bladders! How can we do this? Through physical therapy. The easiest type of physical therapy is pelvic floor exercises. These exercises strengthen your weak pelvic floor and help treat both stress incontinence and urge incontinence.
You’re not alone! Many women – in fact, 1 in 3 – experience some form of urinary incontinence. By making your pelvic floor muscles stronger you can greatly increase your ability to avoid little leaks throughout your busy day.
Pelvic floor muscle exercises can help you regain control of your bladder, your life and your self-esteem, making those little leaks more manageable.Feel confident and feel dry!
Before we dive into exercises you need to familiarise yourself with your pelvic floor. The pelvic floor is a system of muscles, ligaments, tissue, and nerves arranged at the bottom of the pelvis that form a hammock supporting your bladder and uterus. Sometimes it feels sore, sometimes it feels amazing and other times it can feel like it’s being pushed and pulled in all different directions. As women our pelvic floor goes through a lot, especially during pregnancy and childbirth. Exercising your pelvic floor muscles helps to prevent and manage incontinence and as a fabulous bonus, it can make your sex even more pleasurable. Umm…Yes please!
Pelvic floor exercises or kegels are easy and you can do them anytime, anywhere. You can even start toning now as you read!
Let’s get to it:
• Squeeze the muscles that you use to stop your urine flow. Make sure that you focus on only your pelvic muscles.
• Now pretend your vagina is a lift and you are going upwards. Be careful not to squeeze the muscles of the leg, buttock or abdomen instead.
• Hold the squeeze for at least 4 seconds. The more often you do this, the “higher” you can go. Try holding for up to 10 seconds.
• Slowly exhale through your mouth and gradually release the hold. Repeat 10–20 times in a row, at least 3 times a day.
You can test your pelvic floor muscles with a simple stop–start test. When going to the loo, begin to urinate and then cut off the flow by contracting your pelvic muscles. If you experience better control than before, you know the pelvic floor exercises are working!
To take your kegels to the next level, exercise your muscles with both long and short squeezes, repeating until they feel tired. There are two types of exercises:
• Long Squeezes - Tighten your pelvic floor muscles and hold for several seconds and then relax for the same length of time. Start with 5 seconds and work your way up to 10 seconds as you get practice.
• Short Squeezes - Tighten your pelvic floor muscles for one second, then relax.
You’ve mastered your pelvic floor exercises and now you’re ready for the big league.
Your pelvic floor is activated with other muscles when performing certain movements. Here are a few body weight exercises that help to strengthen those adjacent muscles. No equipment needed!
Keep your feet hip width apart.
Engage your ab muscles and tighten your pelvic floor too.
Keeping your lower back braced, lower your body into a squat.
To avoid injury, make sure your knees stay in line with your toes.
Rise back up to standing position.
Perfect! Now repeat.
Lie on your back on the floor.
Bend your knees up, with your feet flat on the floor.
Tighten your pelvic floor muscles and push your hips up off the floor, keeping your back straight.
Hold position for 10 seconds.
Release your muscles.
Amazing! Now repeat.
Start on all fours ensuring your wrists are directly under your shoulders and knees under your hips
Keep your head facing down to keep your spine in position.
Tighten your abs, lower back, and pelvic floor muscles.
At the same time, raise your right arm and left leg until they are straight. Do not raise your head.
Hold this position for 5 seconds.
Lower your arm and leg back to the starting position.
Now perform the same movement with your left arm and right leg.
Hold this position for 5 seconds.
Stunning! Now repeat 5 times on each side.
After 4–6 weeks of getting into the groove and working out your pelvic floor muscles regularly, you may start to notice an improvement in your urinary incontinence symptoms.
If you haven’t noticed an improvement. There’s other methods you can try.
If you’re having trouble doing pelvic floor exercises, you may want to see a physiotherapist who specialises in women’s pelvic health. Biofeedback is a training technique that may be useful if you’re struggling to locate the correct muscles. With biofeedback, you're connected to electrical sensors that help you to receive information (feedback) about your body (bio). This feedback helps you to focus on making subtle changes in your body, such as flexing your pelvic muscles, more successfully.
Try a Bladder-Friendly Diet
Foods like caffeine, chocolate, alcohol, carbonated beverages and spicy foods can affect your incontinence symptoms. Try dialling back on some of these.
Even though it may seem ironic, drinking regularly can help you. Not drinking enough water results in highly concentrated urine, which will irritate your bladder. Try to drink 6 to 8 glasses of water a day.
Extra kilograms can put pressure on your bladder’s muscles, which can lead to stress incontinence. Go for a walk, do some squats, it all helps to make a healthier you.
Was this article helpful?
More Tips to Manage Incontinence