If you experience any leakage when you laugh, cough or sneeze, the likely cause is a weak pelvic floor muscle. So it makes sense that if you strengthen the pelvic floor, bladder control will also improve.
What is the pelvic floor?
The pelvic floor is a sling of muscles that sit in the base of the pelvis. They areattached at the pubic bone at the front and coccyx at the back. These muscles not only provide support for pelvic organs – bladder, bowel and vagina – but play a vital role in bowel and bladder control. In fact, these are the muscles you squeeze to ‘hold on’ when you need to urinate, have a bowel movement or to prevent passing wind.
You can read more about the pelvic floor, including the reasons it becomes weak in this article, Pelvic Floor Health for Women
Can women exercise their pelvic floor?
Most of us have heard of muscles like biceps, quads and gluts, but some people are unaware that they even have a pelvic floor muscle. This is unfortunate as like all muscles, with conditioning, the function is maintained.
Some hold the view that a weak pelvic floor can’t be restored - that it’s an inevitable part of ageing as a woman or the result of having children – but that’s just not true. Others believe that because they’re in poor physical shape, are unfit or have joint or back problems, they won’t be able to give their pelvic floor a workout and again, that’s not the case. You can read about these and other misconceptions in the article, Common Myths about Your Pelvic Floor
The good news is that the pelvic floor can always be exercised to improve strength and endurance in women, allowing you to hold on tighter and for longer.
How do I exercise my pelvic floor muscle?
While these tips have been developed for incontinence prevention, they’re also useful to adopt to rectify any leaks. You might also appreciate the confidence a purpose-made, absorbent product can provide.
The first step is identifying the pelvic floor muscles. To do this, imagine a situation where you don’t want to break wind. Clenching the muscles around your anus and vagina, pulling up as well as in. Pay close attention to the sensation and location of these muscles.
If you’re having difficulty locating the muscles doing this, next time you’re urinating, try and stop the flow after it’s started. The muscle used for this is also your pelvic floor. Although this technique helps find the muscle, regularly stopping your urine flow mid-stream isn’t a good bladder habit, so shouldn’t be repeated on an on-going basis.
Once you’ve identified the correct muscles, exercising is just a series of clenches, holds and releases. Rapid clenches will improve the pelvic floor’s strength and holds will improve its endurance. Start slowly and build up each day. If the muscle feels fatigued, stop and allow it to rest – you can always do more later in the day. For more specific instruction, have a look at this article Easy Pelvic Floor Exercises, which sets out the basics of both strengthening and endurance routines. Or, if you’d prefer, watch the instructional video in this article, Basic Pelvic Floor Exercises
You may also find this article, Pelvic Floor Exercises – Dos and Don’ts useful.
Additional exercises for women at home
If you’re looking to improve your overall strength, while at home, including your pelvic floor, consider yoga or Pilates.
Both Pilates and yoga have a focus on core strength, which includes the lower back, abdominal and pelvic floor muscles.
There are plenty of free online yoga classes that you might like to try. Give a few a go and find one that you enjoy. Again, remember to keep within your ability and start off slowly.
While Pilates was developed using apparatus to create resistance, there are many instructional videos on YouTube designed to be done at home without equipment. They vary in length and difficulty, so start with a short beginner one and see if it works for you. You can read more about this particular type of exercise in the article, Pilates and Strengthening the Pelvic Floor
Yoga is an activity with a long, philosophical history that has evolved into many distinct types – from the fast-paced and strenuous, to the gentle and relaxing, and even ‘hot yoga’ which is performed in a room heated to 41C. There really is a yoga style to suit everybody! Again, if you’re at home, check out some of the many instructional videos on YouTube. You can do the ‘class’ in your lounge room or for a change, take your laptop or phone and a towel or mat into the garden for a session in nature. You can read more about yoga, its beginnings and styles, in this article, Yoga Exercises for a Prolapsed Bladder which although written for that condition, still has relevance for strengthening a weak pelvic floor.
If the sudden urge to pass urine is catching you out, a TENA liner could be the solution. They’re incredibly thin, discreet and comfortable and ideal for a small leak.
For more protection, TENA Pads range from very small ultra-thin pads through to products that can easily manage large quantities.
Whichever you chose, be assured that all TENA products are specifically designed to handle the thin, fast flow of a weak bladder. They rapidly absorb and lock away fluid, keeping you dry, odour free and confident.
Finding your perfect product
If you are at home, why not use it as an opportunity to take advantage of our Product Finder and Free Samples? You can try them with various outfits, including activewear, checking out every angle in the mirror, so you’re convinced of their discreetness, comfort and security.
Asaleo Care makes no warranties or representations regarding the completeness or accuracy of the information. This information should be used only as a guide and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional, medical or other health professional advice.