Bladder control exercises are used to re-establish control over the involuntary leakage of urine. These exercises are to train or re-educates your muscles back to strength and help realign your body naturally. Most women do not realize that weakening of the pelvic floor is progressive and can start in your 20s. In other words, for bladder control exercises to be effective, you have to engage the many muscles in the pelvis, not just the bladder wall whenever you can. This is hard and we get it, so let’s explain!
Common Misconceptions + Causes
Urinary incontinence is not a disease and it is treatable. Urinary incontinence can be a symptom of certain conditions like inactivity, obesity, or the result of certain events during a woman’s life, like childbirth or sports. Childbirth is pretty tough on the pelvic floor. A number of studies suggest vaginal deliveries significantly increase the chances of developing urinary incontinence. Sports and active lifestyles have repetitive bouncing (running, horseback riding, volleyball, etc). Chronic repetitive motion and strain on the pelvic floor muscles and contribute to the risk for urinary leakage.
Urinary incontinence a consequence of aging. In fact, female college athletes experience a substantial rate of incontinence as well as mothers in their 30’s and 40’s. It is estimated that as many as 28% of all varsity college female athletes have some form of incontinence For younger women the cause may be hypertonus. The ability to learn to relax the muscles of the pelvic floor are just as critical as strengthening.
There Are Three Types of Incontinence: Urge, Stress and Mixed
Urge incontinence is when the bladder muscle spasm creating the sudden need to void. Stress is when the muscles of the pelvic floor slacken causing a shift in the position of the visceral organs putting pressure on the bladder so a sudden movement causes a urine leak. Mixed urinary incontinence is when both types are present. The sudden involuntary loss of urine can be embarrassing sometimes inciting a pervasive fear of judgment by others limiting activity outside the home.
Exercises to Try Out
Kegels are effective exercises to treat incontinence though they Kegels may be best known for their use to enhance feminine response. Over 50% of women do them incorrectly because isolating those muscles is so difficult or their muscles are too weak. To gain strength back, a lot of women choose to use technological devices like Yarlap® (see photo).
Electronically Controlled Muscle Stimulation:
E-Muscle Stim has been used for decades in Europe to help women with perineal re-education and pelvic floor strength. In 20 min a day you can have a comfortable clinically proven effective work-out done automatically for you. These are medical devices that must be FDA Cleared, like Yarlap®. Yarlap® has six clinically proven programs for pelvic floor muscle strength and relaxation.
Biofeedback devices record muscle activity only. If you are contracting the wrong muscles, like your rear-end or abs, the biofeedback device reports the wrong musculature activity. You have to have some muscle control to use biofeedback correctly.
Step by Step Kegel
- Sit, stand or lie with your knees slightly apart. Slowly tighten your pelvic floor muscles under the bladder as hard as you can. Hold to the count of five, then relax. These are called slow pull-ups or long squeezes.
- Then do the same exercise quickly and immediately let go again. These are called fast pull-ups or short squeezes.
- The aim is to do a long squeeze followed by ten short squeezes and repeat this cycle at least eight to ten times. It should only take about five minutes.
- Perform the above exercises at least three times a day, every day for the rest of your life.
- Remember: do not squeeze other muscles at the same time as you squeeze your pelvic floor muscles. Do not use any muscles in your back, thighs, or buttocks.Doing the kegel is incredibly difficult. A lot of women are starting to choose technology to help them track their pelvic floor strength. When you rebuild your pelvic muscles strength, the best way to strengthen the pelvic floor is with an electric stimulator like the Yarlap®. It takes time, constant focus on the correct muscles and practice to become good at these exercises. You should start to see benefits after a few weeks.