Find The Right Muscles
Find your pelvic floor muscles. Try one of the following ways to find the right muscles to squeeze.
- Imagine you are trying to stop passing gas. Squeeze the muscles you would use. If you sense a “pulling” feeling in your vaginal or rectal area, you are squeezing the right muscles.
- While urinating, try to stop your urine midstream. The muscles you squeeze to stop the urine flow are your pelvic floor muscles. Though this is an easy way to find the muscles at first, dont do Kegel exercises while urinating on a regular basis. Stopping your bladder from emptying completely could increase your risk for a bladder infection.
- Women: Insert your finger into your vagina. Squeeze as if you were trying to hold in your urine. If you feel tightness on your finger, you are squeezing the right muscles.
- Men: Insert your finger into your anus. Squeeze as if you were trying to hold in your urine. If you feel tightness on your finger, you are squeezing the right muscles.
Let your health care professional help you. Many people have trouble finding the right muscles. Your doctor, nurse, or pelvic floor therapist can let you know if you are doing the exercises correctly. They can examine you while you do the exercises to verify you are squeezing the right muscles. They can also recommend exercise aids, such as biofeedback, electrical stimulation, or special weights.
Notice The Difference Within 3 To 6 Months
As we all know, results dont happen overnight. You may start to notice the difference after consistently doing these exercises for 3 to 6 months. You may then regain control of your bladder, have fewer accidents, and able to do more repetitions. They may also help minimise your risk of associated complications, such as emotional distress and sleep deprivation.
Reclining Bound Angle Pose
- Remain on the floor, but remove your yoga block, while keeping your knees bent.
- Inhale and slowly spread your knees, dropping them to the floor on the sides.
- Exhale while slowly bringing your knees together and lifting your pelvis off the floor.
- Contract your pelvic muscles.
- Release them and return to the floor.
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Take Preventative Measures Against Urinary Tract Infections
Incontinence is one symptom of urinary tract infection . Another symptom is a stinging or burning sensation when you pee and a decreased or irregular flow of urine. If you experience this, you should visit your doctor. UTIs are treated with antibiotics for 3 to 7 days.
Ways to prevent UTIs include:
- Drink plenty of water
- Urinate before and after having sex
- Wipe from front to back after you pee
- Wear breathable, natural underwear and clothing, changing your underwear daily
The Squeeze & Release
The squeeze and release is your secret weapon towards getting your pelvic muscles to respond quickly. This can be very helpful for stopping leaks in pinch!To squeeze and release:
- Sit or stand in a comfortable position and think of the muscles used to control your urine flow.
- Squeeze your pelvic muscles as quickly as possible and rapidly release them with no attempt to hold the position.
- Take a rest for 5 to 10 seconds.
- Repeat contracting your pelvic muscles for 10 to 20 reps.
- Perform this exercise 3 times throughout the day.
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Kegel Exercises To Prevent Female Leakage
Recently weve focused a number of blog posts on womens bladder and pelvic health issues, such as pelvic organ prolapse, UTIs and female leakage. Since then, weve received an overwhelming number of questions asking how to perform pelvic exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor. Keeping this organ, muscle and skeletal system healthy is essential for women of all ages.
Our guest blogger Lacey Savage, who is a licensed physical therapist at INTEGRIS Jim Thorpe Outpatient Clinics and an expert on pelvic floor dysfunction, answers your questions.
Dynamic Side Lunge Stretch
Stand with your feet hip-width apart with your toes pointed directly forward. Bring your hands together in front of your chest. Take a step to the side with your right foot. Once its planted, push your hips backward and bend your right knee to 90 degrees. Your left knee should stay straight as you lower into the lunge. Come up out of the lunge and then bring your right foot back to the starting position. Go right into the next repetition, this time stepping to the side with your left foot. Complete this movement for 30 seconds.
What Causes Pelvic Organ Prolapse To Develop In The First Place
Any health conditions that put stress on the muscles of your pelvic floor, causing them to weaken, can lead to pelvic organ prolapse. These include:
- Pregnancy and vaginal child birth.
- Being overweight/weight gain.
- Surgery in your pelvic area including cesarean section .
- Genetics some people are born with a higher risk than others to develop weakness in the tissues that support the muscles of the pelvic floor.
- Natural aging process the muscles of your pelvic floor, as well as muscles in the rectum and anus, naturally weaken with age. Loss of estrogen also weakens muscles in this area.
- Frequent bouts of sneezing, coughing, laughing.
- Exercises and contact sports.
Types Of Urinary Incontinence
Problems with bladder control fall into two main categories. Leakage with laughing and other things that put pressure on the bladder is known as stress incontinence. Its often caused by childbirth, which can stretch or damage the pelvic floor muscles and nerves.
The other common type is known as urge incontinence, or overactive bladder. Its caused by unpredictable contractions of muscles in the bladder wall. Overactive bladder usually stems from a temporary condition such as a bladder infection, or from a chronic condition such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinsons disease, stroke, or diabetes. Symptoms of an overactive bladder include needing to urinate often needing to urinate urgently leaking urine and waking from sleep to urinate. Postmenopausal women tend to develop overactive bladder, possibly because of age-related changes in the bladder lining and muscle.
There are other types of urinary incontinence. Symptoms of both stress incontinence and overactive bladder are known as mixed incontinence. Overflow incontinence occurs if something blocks urine from flowing normally out of an overfull bladder. This is more common in men, but does affect women. Some medications can cause overflow incontinence.
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Adjust Your Diet And Beverage Intake
Regardless of weight, you can also adjust what you eat and when you eat it. The following foods and beverages can irritate the bladder, causing involuntary urine leakage. If you notice patterns in your food and drink consumption that correspond with leaks, avoiding those foods will help avoid leaks.
Foods to avoid include:
- Acidic foods, like citrus fruits and tomatoes
Beverages to avoid include:
- Carbonated beverages
If youre not ready to abstain completely from these ingredients, be more mindful when and where you consume them. Drinking carbonated beverages closer to bedtime might be something you avoid, since it could result in bedwetting or frequent waking up to use the bathroom .
If I Have Incontinence Do I Need To Speak To A Gp
Anyone experiencing incontinence or problems with their bladder is always encouraged to speak to a health professional, GP or medical expert. While pelvic floor exercises can assist, a professional will be able to determine if there are other underlying issues that are causing bladder leakage or incontinence.
Its also common for GPs to refer patients for a full continence assessment, which may help them with individual exercises. Its also important to talk to a professional as soon as possible so investigations can occur and treatments can be implemented to avoid permanent damage.
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Add To Your Daily Routine
Do your pelvic exercises at least three times a day. Every day, try to do the exercises in three positions: lying down, sitting, and standing. Using all three positions makes the muscles strongest. Keep a daily journal or exercise log to record each time you do the exercises.
Heres a sample daily exercise schedule.
- Do a set of exercises in the morning, while making breakfast.
- Fit in another set in the afternoon, while sitting at your desk or driving.
- End with a third set in the evening, while lying in bed.
Be patient. Don’t give up. It’s just 5 minutes, three times a day. Like any exercise routine, it can take a little time to build up muscle strength and conditioning. You may not feel your bladder control improve until after 3 to 6 weeks.
Dont overdo it. Keep doing the exercises, but dont increase how many you do. Overdoing the exercises can lead to straining when you urinate or move your bowels.
Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor Muscles With Pelvic Floor Exercises
Pelvic floor exercises strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which support the uterus, bladder, small intestine and rectum. Kegel or pelvic floor exercises can be done any time, either sitting or lying down.You can even do them when you are eating, sitting at your desk, or when you are resting.
If youre unsure how to do Kegel exercises, your doctor, physical therapist or physiotherapist can help you. But basically its like pretending you have to urinate and then holding it. You relax and tighten the muscles that control urine flow.
One way to learn the muscles you should activate is to pay attention when you pee:
- Start to pee and then stop.
- You should feel the muscles in your vagina , bladder, and anus get tight and move up. These are the pelvic floor muscles.
- If you feel them tighten, you have done the pelvic floor muscle training right. Your thighs, buttock muscles, and abdomen should remain relaxed.
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Insurance Covered Programs Use Biofeedback & Kegels
Dont assume youll have to live with incontinence as just another part of aging.
In pelvic floor rehabilitation programs around the country, including those at NYU Langone Medical Center and Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, as well as those offered by independent physical therapists, women are learning how to do Kegels and other home-based exercises that can stave off incontinence and stop it from getting worse. These six-week programs are mostly or totally covered by insurance or Medicare.
Done correctly, Kegel exercises can help strengthen pelvic floor muscles and reduce or even stop leakage.
Trouble is, many women dont know how to Kegels or do them the wrong way, Sandy Kleinhandler says. Kleinhandler is one of the nurses who teach women to do Kegels the right way at the pelvic floor rehab program run by gynecologist Steven R. Goldstein, MD at NYU Langone.
Like NYUs program, most of those around the country have several components: Urodynamic testing a painless 10 minute test to measure the capacity, pressure and strength of the bladder and supporting tissues, which helps diagnose specific incontinence problems muscle evaluation and Kegel instruction aided by biofeedback and electrical muscle stimulation to both strengthen muscles and aid Kegel instruction.
The entire process is no more intrusive than a pelvic exam and theres no discomfort at all trust us, we tried it.
But there are things you can do at home, too.
Ways To Treat Bladder Leakage
With so many bladder leakage products and treatment options, how do you know what is the best one for you?
First, be sure to check in with your urologist or urogynecologist to see what may be causing your bladder leakage. Knowing the cause will help you and your doctor decide what treatment option will work best for you. While certain drinks, foods and medications may stimulate your bladder, there are other medical reasons that can cause your symptoms, including:
- Urinary tract infections
- Weakened pelvic floor, sometimes caused by pregnancy, childbirth, menopause or having had a hysterectomy
- Neurological disorders
Depending on what is causing your urinary incontinence, a unique treatment plan should be developed based on your personal situation, says Nina Bhatia, M.D., urogynecologist at Hackensack Meridian Health. There are several lifestyle changes, including bladder retraining techniques, dietary changes, avoiding bladder irritants, pelvic floor exercises and pelvic floor physical therapy that can help tremendously. If those fail to provide you relief, there are non-surgical and surgical options that we can offer.
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Do Pelvic Floor Exercises Make A Difference
It takes time, effort and practice to become good at pelvic floor exercises/Kegels. It is best do these exercises for at least three months to start with. You should start to see benefits after a few weeks. However, it often takes two to five months for most improvement to occur. After this time you may be cured of stress incontinence. If you are not sure that you are doing the correct exercises, ask a doctor, physiotherapist or continence advisor for advice.
If possible, continue exercising as a part of everyday life for the rest of your life. Once incontinence has gone, you may only need to do one or two bouts of exercise each day to keep the pelvic floor muscles strong and toned up and to prevent incontinence from coming back.
What Do The Pelvic Floor Muscles Have To Do With Urinary Incontinence
The most common type of urinary incontinence is stress incontinence, which happens when you have leakage when you cough, laugh, sneeze, exercise, etc. As I mentioned, the pelvic floor muscles are always in a state of contracting and relaxing, though most of us are unaware this is happening. Activities like sneezing increase abdominal pressure, which puts pressure on the bladder and causes it to release urine. When abdominal pressure increases, the pelvic floor muscles are supposed to contract in order to shut the urethra off and prevent leakage. In many women these muscles are either not contracting automatically or are not contracting strongly enough to stop the leakage.
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Bladder And Pelvic Floor Muscles
Bladder control exercises target a specific group of muscles known as yourpelvic floor muscles. The pelvic floor is located at the very end of your core muscles. They stretch in a hammock shape from the pubic bone to the tailbone.
The female pelvic floor supports the womb, bladder, bowels, and rectum. These muscles are responsible for controlling the stopping and releasing of urine flow. Theyre also responsible for relaxing the anus and bowel muscles.
Hip Bridge With Pilates Ball
A variation of the glute bridge, this exercise uses the aid of the pilates ball as in the previous exercise.10
- Lie on your back with a ball held between the knees as before.
- Gently squeeze the ball and feel your pelvic floor muscles contract as you do this.Now move your arms above your head, palm side up.
- Exhale as you raise your hips off the ground to create the bridge position. At the same time, move your arms up to the ceiling and bring them to rest on either side of your body, on the mat.
- Breathe in, bringing your torso back down followed by your hips. As you do this, lift your arms up and reach overhead with them.
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How Do I Find My Pelvic Floor Muscles
Your pelvic floor muscles are a group of muscles that form a small sling or hammock that runs between your pubic bone in the front of your body to your tailbone at the back.
Finding your pelvic floor muscles is pretty simple. Try stopping the flow of your urine when you are sitting on the toilet. Only do this until you learn how it feels . You can also insert a finger into your vagina and squeeze the muscles in your vagina around it. You should feel pressure around your finger. The muscles you feel lifting inside of you when you are trying these activities are the same ones you strengthen during Kegel exercises.
Supta Baddha Konasana Or Reclining Bound Angle Pose
This yoga pose focuses on your groin and pelvic region and works your inner thighs as well as hips, giving it a complete stretch. With stronger inner thighs, you can stabilize your pelvic floor better. Because you boost flexibility, you can sense and use your pelvic floor muscles much more deeply than before.13 Follow these steps to perform this asana14:
- Lie down on your back, knees bent, and feet together.
- Breathe in relaxing the pelvic floor. Feel your hip and abdominal muscle relax. Allow your knees to drop open at the sides of your body.
- Breathe out as you bring your knees back to the start position, pulling your abdominal muscle in and lifting your pelvic floor. Accentuate that contraction of your muscles at the tail end of your exhalation.
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How To Find The Right Muscles
A Kegel exercise is like pretending you have to urinate and then holding it. You relax and tighten the muscles that control urine flow. It is important to find the right muscles to tighten.
Next time you have to urinate, start to go and then stop. Feel the muscles in your vagina , bladder, or anus get tight and move up. These are the pelvic floor muscles. If you feel them tighten, you have done the exercise right. Your thighs, buttock muscles, and abdomen should remain relaxed.
If you still are not sure you are tightening the right muscles:
- Imagine that you are trying to keep yourself from passing gas.
- Women: Insert a finger into your vagina. Tighten the muscles as if you are holding in your urine, then let go. You should feel the muscles tighten and move up and down.
- Men: Insert a finger into your rectum. Tighten the muscles as if you are holding in your urine, then let go. You should feel the muscles tighten and move up and down.