Life’s events can weaken the pelvic floor muscles that help support the bladder. Pregnancy, childbirth, aging, and being overweight can lead to poor control over these muscles. Luckily, when these muscles get weak, you can help make them stronger again!
Women with bladder control problems can regain control through pelvic floor exercises (Kegel’s). It takes diligence to identify your pelvic floor muscles and learn how to contract & relax them. Here are some tips:
• Find the right muscles. Imagine that you are trying to stop passing gas. Squeeze the muscles you would use. If you sense a “pulling” feeling, those are the right muscles for pelvic exercises. You can also try stopping the flow of urine when you urinate. If you can do it, you are using the right muscles. NOTE: Don’t make a habit of starting and stopping your urine stream. Doing Kegel exercises with a full bladder or while emptying your bladder can actually weaken the muscles, as well as lead to incomplete emptying of the bladder (which increases the risk of a urinary tract infection).
• Perfect your technique. Once you’ve identified your pelvic floor muscles, empty your bladder and sit or lie down. Contract your pelvic floor muscles, hold the contraction for 3-5 seconds, then relax for 3-5 seconds. Work up to keeping the muscles contracted for 10 seconds at a time, repeat 10-15 times throughout the day.
• Maintain your focus. For best results, focus on tightening only your pelvic floor muscles. Be careful not to flex the muscles in your abdomen, thighs or buttocks. Remember to breathe! • Squeeze before you sneeze! Tighten your pelvic muscles before sneezing, lifting, or jumping. This can prevent pelvic muscle damage.
-Written by Jamie Ligon, PT