Exercises To Treat Female Urinary Incontinence
Three in ten women in the UK suffer from urinary incontinence, or involuntary urine loss, a condition which can cause a lot of discomfort and distress. Although the symptoms may be worrying, it many cases it’s simply due to an issue with the muscles around the pelvic area.
The good news is that there are some simple exercises which you can do to relieve the symptoms and prevent urinary continence from developing. By working the muscles in this part of your body, you can tone and strengthen them and improve how well they function.
However, there are other factors that can contribute to urinary incontinence so it’s worth taking a moment to address those first. Amongst the culprits are:
- Constipation – straining can put pressure on the pelvic musculature so improving intestinal function should be one of the first problems you attend to.
- Obesity – carrying too much weight on your frame can cause multiple health issues, including urinary incontinence.
- Drinking irritating substances – beverages such as caffeine and alcohol can irritate your insides and make urinary incontinence worse
- High impact sports – exercise is good for you and you shouldn’t be discouraged from physical activity but where possible practicing low impact sport is preferable. Aerobics, dancing and jogging can trigger symptoms due to the brisk movements so swimming or walking are good alternatives.
- Stress – a problem which can have a huge impact on many areas of our life, stress can make it seem impossible to take control of a situation. Tensing the pelvic region can be an involuntary symptom of stress so be aware of your posture and your bodily position. Relax your muscles if you notice you are holding them tensely.
- Pregnancy and vaginal birth – carrying a baby puts a lot of stress on the mother’s body, and the musculature around the pelvis can be temporarily weakened by both the duration of the pregnancy and a vaginal birth. Carrying out the right exercises postpartum can help to correct any underlying weakness and regain strength in this area.
The above factors will have a bearing on how effective any exercise programme is, so it’s vital to consider them first.
A guide to the all-important exercises
The bladder, rectum and genital organs all receive support from the muscles in the pelvic region, which extend from the pubic bone all the way through to the sacrum. The factors described above together with the passage of time can take their toll on these muscles, weakening them and reducing their effectiveness. A few simple exercises can be all that’s needed to help them stay toned and in good shape.
Relaxing and tensing the muscles
One of the first things you should learn is how to both clench and relax your muscles in the genital area; this is the type of movement you would normally make during a bowel movement. By repeating the exercise you will be able to feel your muscles sliding into place, and how they work. It’s important why you try this that you isolate the muscles you are trying to work, and don’t use other areas such as your buttocks or your abdominal muscles to get the effect you want.
When you’re urinating, if you stop the flow by contracting the muscles you will be able to determine how well you’re able to use them. Whilst it’s fine to try this once, don’t keep repeating this move as you could harm yourself.
To carry out the exercise properly, you should breathe deeply throughout, at no point holding your breath. You should then follow these steps:
- Steadily contract the muscles in your genital area until you can’t clench them any further. Hold that position for 5 seconds, and then relax.
- Repeat this contraction 10 times. This should be repeated at least three times daily.
- When you’re more accustomed to the exercise you can do it more quickly, contracting and relaxing in quick succession.
- Once you’ve managed to complete the exercises for several days, gradually increase each set up to 20 repetitions.
Where should I exercise?
The beauty of this exercise is that it can be completed very easily in a range of different places and no-one needs to know what you’re doing.
Whether you’re waiting at the bus stop, sat down in front of the TV or even lying in bed, there’s no excuse not to complete your quota. There’s no particular posture that you need to adopt to exercise your pelvic region: sitting, standing, kneeling or lying down will all work just as well.
After you start following this exercise regime, you will begin to feel the benefits within six weeks.