Exercises for Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence translates to the loss of bladder control. This means that one can’t always exercise control when they urinate. This condition can range from leaking small amounts of urine, especially when laughing and coughing, to having a strong urge to urinate that is difficult to control. 

Urinary incontinence manifests in different ways:

Stress incontinence – When one exerts pressure on the bladder, urine leaks. It could happen during very common actions like coughing, sneezing, laughing, exercising, or lifting something heavy.

Urge incontinence – When one has a sudden urge to urinate followed by an involuntary loss of urine. This could be caused by conditions like an infection to something more severe such as neurological disorder or diabetes.

Overflow incontinence – When there is a constant dribble of urine as the bladder is unable to empty itself completely.

Functional incompetence – When one has a physical or mental impairment, which prevents them from getting to the toilet on time. 

Mixed incontinence – When one experiences more than one type of the above-mentioned incontinence.

Urinary incontinence can be managed and one can go about their daily activities without being hindered. There are options to go under the knife, however here we would be talking about exercises. These exercises are designed to target specific muscles that can be strengthened and help the person control their urinary functions.

 Kegel exercises 

kegek exercises

  • Breathe easy and relax your body
  • Tighten your pelvic floor muscles. Hold tight and count 3 to 5 seconds
  • Make sure you are not tightening your stomach, thigh, buttock, or chest muscles
  • Relax the muscles and count 3 to 5 seconds
  • Repeat 10 times, 3 times a day (morning, afternoon, and night)

Bladder training 

This exercise trains your bladder to hold more urine before you empty it. It helps you learn to gradually increase the amount of urine you can comfortably hold. When your bladder can hold more urine, you can wait longer between bathroom visits. It’s most often recommended for women with an overactive bladder. “Many women do not know that they should be able to wait three to six hours between urinating. Bladder training retrains the way the brain and bladder interact to give the woman more bladder control,” says Dr. Wakamatsu (Gynecologic surgeon – Massachusetts General Hospital).

How to initiate Bladder training?

  • Determine how often you urinate on an average per day.
  • Train your bladder to hold more urine by waiting as long as possible between bathroom breaks, even if it’s uncomfortable. 
  • After several weeks of practice, you should be able to extend the time between your bathroom visits.

  Weight-loss exercises

exercises for weight loss

In many cases, overweight or obesity causes urinary incontinence. This is because of the extra weight that puts extra pressure on the bladder and pelvic muscles. Losing weight using diet and exercises helps relieve Urinary Incontinence. Losing weight does not stop leaks completely. However, studies have shown that it does have a positive impact on urinary incontinence.

Some simple steps that you can follow to make exercising more enjoyable and effective are – 

  • Complement the exercise with inputs from a nutritionist
  • Add simple exercises to your daily routine (walking)
  • Partner with a friend for exercising
  • Add small movements throughout the day
  • Keep track of it.

Physical therapy

This is another go-to for urinary incontinence or bladder issues. Urinary incontinence could be caused by weak muscles, which can be strengthened through Physical therapy. At times, urinary incontinence is brought about by incorrect posture or tight, overly active muscles, which leads to coordination and muscle imbalance. This can be fixed in physical therapy. Therapy also includes relaxation techniques, behavior modification, bladder retraining exercises, etc., among others. Therapy has benefits beyond bringing respite to individuals with urinary incontinence, it helps in strengthening the core, improving posture, and many more. 

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