Incontinence is the uncontrollable leakage of urine, usually when bladder pressure increases suddenly. Activities like sneezing, coughing, laughing, or physical exertion can trigger incontinence. When the muscles and tissues supporting the bladder weaken, anything that exerts force on the abdominal and pelvic muscles can put pressure on the bladder and cause leakage.
Childbirth, excess body weight, older age, and previous pelvic surgery are risk factors for developing stress incontinence. Experiencing incontinence is frustrating and can also seem irreparable. Luckily, there are many behavioral treatments, including exercise, that can improve the condition.
Kegel exercises are a great way to strengthen pelvic floor muscles. Anyone can easily incorporate Kegels into their daily routine and do them discreetly. To get started with Kegels, stop urination midstream to identify the correct muscles. When performing a Kegel, tighten the pelvic muscles and hold for three seconds. Repeat for three sets of 10 to 15. Focus only on the pelvic floor muscles, and not your abdomen, thighs, or buttocks.
Kegel exercises are most effective for those experiencing mild urine leakage from stress incontinence, and may not be as helpful for people who have severe urine leakage. They can also be used during pregnancy or after childbirth to help improve and prevent symptoms. Commit to daily Kegel exercises and you can expect results within a few weeks or months. Continue to incorporate Kegels permanently for continued benefits.
Exercise can be a trigger for incontinence. According to Roger Dmochowski, MD, a urologist, and director of the Vanderbilt Continence Center, “people with incontinence top doing things they enjoy, like high-impact aerobics.” However, regular exercise is important as carrying extra weight is a risk factor for incontinence.
There are numerous strategies for exercising with incontinence. Opt for loose-fitting, dark-colored workout bottoms especially if wearing incontinence pad. Avoid caffeinated drinks prior to working out, as caffeine is a diuretic and increasing the likelihood of leaks. Using a tampon may also help prevent leaks because it puts pressure on the urethra. Don’t let incontinence scare you away from the gym. Stay active to help control your weight.
While Kegels can help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, and exercise may reduce symptoms by lowering weight, it can take time to see the positive effects of exercise on incontinence. Incontinence supplies are essential for managing symptoms and can help make strenuous exercise possible and comfortable.
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