People of all ages can suffer from bowel or bladder incontinence. This condition is often hidden, and men and women alike often feel embarrassed to admit that they have this issue. In some cases, this is a short-term problem that is caused by medication or a medical condition. For others, it is a chronic problem that they will have to deal with for the rest of their lives.
While there are better women's incontinence products and men's incontinence products on the market than ever before, it is always best to prevent incontinence before it ever starts. Pelvic floor exercises are one of the most effective (and most natural) ways to strengthen your muscles and prevent incontinence.
What Is A Pelvic Floor Exercise?
A pelvic floor exercise is an exercise designed to help strengthen the muscles in your pelvis. They are recommended for anyone with an incontinence issue, an anal prolapse, or with a condition that could weaken your pelvic muscles. Pregnant women should also do pelvic floor exercises to make their labour and delivery easier and more efficient.
By clenching and then releasing these muscles in a series of timed movements, pelvic floor exercises strengthen the muscles near the vagina, penis, back passage, and bladder.
Men and women can both benefit from doing pelvic floor exercises.
What Do Pelvic Floor Muscle Exercises Do?
These easy-to-do exercises have you clench and then release the muscles in your pelvis. This trains your muscles to retain the urine in your bladder until you are on the toilet. You do not need any special equipment, work out clothing, or any extra time out of your day. In fact, many people do pelvic floor exercises while watching telly, working at their desks, or waiting in a queue!
Doing pelvic floor exercises just a few times per week will help you to gain and retain control over your bladder.
How To Do Pelvic Floor Exercises Correctly
It is a good idea for everyone to do pelvic floor exercises as a preventative measure. Everybody can benefit from overall pelvic health.
Give this simple exercise a try:
- After you empty your bladder, stand upright, sit straight up with your legs gently crossed, or lie down with your knees bent.
- Start by contracting the muscles around your genitals, isolating them.
- Pretend that your genital area is a lift, and move them slowly upward. Do not move the muscles around your rear end or thighs.
- When you get to the ‘top,’ hold for 5-10 seconds.
- Slowly exhaling through your mouth, slowly release the hold in a fluid fashion.
- Repeat this action at least 10 times, and do this 3 or more times per day. When you find yourself in a queue, bored, or the thought pops into your head, simply do 10 reps – your pelvic floor muscles will thank you!
A firm and strong rear end can also help to support your pelvic floor. Try this simple exercise to strengthen your bum and thighs.
- Position yourself on your hands and knees, with bent knees, place your hands flat on the floor.
- Lift your left leg back while keeping your hips still. Hold this position for 1 minute.
- Now, do the same motion on your right hand
- Do this 4 to 5 times on each side. The more often you do this, the higher you will be able to lift your leg, and the longer you will be able to hold the lift. This means that your muscles are growing stronger!
After you have done some of these incontinence exercises for a few weeks or a month, you can test yourself to see if they are working. Try a simple ‘stop-start’ test. While you are urinating, see if you can quickly and abruptly cut off the flow by contracting your pelvic floor muscles. You should be able to see a marked improvement over time.
For a visual demonstration of these exercises, watch this video and learn more about how to prevent incontinence and strengthen your pelvic floor.