Pelvic Floor Exercises
For people with stress incontinence, pelvic floor exercises can reduce or stop leakage. Pelvic floor exercises can also help to reduce urge and frequency in overactive bladders.
Weakening of the pelvic floor muscles occurs because of pregnancy and childbirth, menopause, constipation and straining, chronic cough.
Weak pelvic floor muscles can also cause prolapse or a feeling of something "coming down" or "pressure down below".
You can strengthen the muscles supporting the bladder and urethra by performing pelvic floor muscle exercises. Toning these pelvic floor muscles can help support the bladder and reduce urgency and frequency episodes.
Finding the muscles
Sit comfortably on an upright chair, knees apart, pelvis in neutral. Keep the buttocks relaxed. Imagine you are stopping yourself emptying the bladder or passing wind. Or imagine your pelvic floor is like a lift moving up and down to different floors. Continue to breathe normally during this exercise (don’t take big breathes to lift up your muscles).
Helpful hints for pelvic floor exercises:
To find the right muscles, try to stop or slow the flow of urine mid stream. This is a test only and should NOT be done as an exercise.
Imagine you are trying to stop passing wind. Now you are using your pelvic floor muscles.
There are two types of pelvic floor exercises - short and long:
SHORT: Tighten your muscles as hard as possible for a short hold. Repeat as many times as you can until the muscle feels tired. This exercise should then be done when you are coughing, sneezing etc in order to stop the leaks.
LONG: Tighten and hold the squeeze for as long as possible. Breathe through the exercise. Repeat the long holds as many times as you can with a short rest in between. This exercise can be done to seal the sensation urgency and reduce the need to go "just in case".
Practising your pelvic floor exercises helps tighten your muscles and helps improve your control. However, it can take several months of continuous exercises to see an improvement. 40% of women do not tighten the correct muscles, so it is important to seek help from a suitably qualified Chartered Physiotherapist or Nurse specialist.