Regardless of whether urinary incontinence is caused by childbirth, diabetes, surgery, weakened muscles, or aging, there is much you can do to retrain and strengthen your body to prevent leaks and embarrassing outcomes. Through exercise, you can build up your pelvic muscles to help you hold urine and maintain better control no matter where you are.
1. Kegel Exercises
One of the most effective forms of urinary incontinence treatment Sydney practitioners suggest is a type of workout you can perform just about anywhere and at any time. Kegel exercises involve the clenching and release of your pelvic floor muscles, or the ones involved in helping you to control urination.
To locate your kegel muscles, consider the muscles you sense while urinating and activate the ones that help you to stop urination before you’re finished on the toilet. While seated, clench these muscles and release ten times in a row, alternating between fast and slow contractions held for longer periods of time.
2. Diaphragmatic Breathing
Also known as belly-breathing, this exercise engages your deep abdominal muscles, you diaphragm, and your pelvic muscles at once. Lay on your back with a pillow beneath your head, with your feet flat on the floor and your knees facing the ceiling.
Actively clench and imagine pulling your diaphragm downward with each inhale, releasing on the exhale. Diaphragmatic breathing can connect your breath with your pelvic floor, which can increase muscle tone and strength.
Many exercises that activate your glute muscles also target your pelvic floor, too. To complete this exercise, lay on your back in a comfortable spot with feet flat on the floor and your knees bent. Lift your hips toward the ceiling and hold the position while you count up to ten seconds before you release and lower back to the ground. Perform as many repetitions as you’d like, but aim for at least ten at a time, focusing on clenching your pelvic floor at the top. To boost your results, connect your breath and activate your deep core muscles with each repetition.
Another glute exercise with pelvic floor benefits, squats are a little more labour intensive than other pelvic floor exercises. Still, they are incredibly effective in strengthening your pelvis and glutes at the same time.
Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and slowly bend your knees as you imagine sitting on an invisible chair behind you. Take care to maintain a tall back, keeping your knees in line with your toes and leaning slightly forward. Press into your feet as you return to a standing position, and repeat at least ten times.
A workout programme rather than a set of individual exercises, Pilates is full of effective moves to help to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. Find a local Pilates studio near you and enroll in a trial class to see if it’s right for you. If public classes seem too intimidating or you’d simply rather exercise privately, find a series of Pilates videos online.
Many Pilates videos require no equipment and can be modified for your own fitness levels, so you can approach the programme exactly where you are. Exercises such as scissors, shoulder bridges, clamshells, and lunges all function to strengthen the muscles that help you with any problems with urinary incontinence.
For an exercise programme that can also provide a valuable stress relief, yoga is an effective way to build physical strength and tone your pelvic floor. Many yoga poses can be held for as long or as short a duration as you’d like, and perform multiple functions such as lower back pain relief, increasing flexibility, strengthening your core, and lowering your blood pressure through deep breathing in each pose.
When in a yoga practice, focus on poses that keep your pelvic floor engaged. For extra pelvic floor strengthening in your practice, you can squeeze a yoga block between your knees, lift your pelvis off the floor while lying on your back, hold an extended chair pose, pull up in your pelvic floor while in warrior poses, and try to take full advantage of any poses that aim to strengthen your back, glutes, or hips by becoming more mindful of the activation of your pelvic floor in the process.