Have you ever experienced urine leakage while exercising or even coughing? Do you think it only happens to mothers or females in general?
We are so lucky to have an Ellipse Fitness super hero member whose alter-ego is an expert on the pelvic floor. Veronica Lane, MHS, PT works with women all the time to strengthen their pelvic floor and stop the evil villain, we call, Stress Incontinence in its tracks.
Veronica noticed women heading off to the restroom during activities such as jumping jacks. Some members would joke, “darn kids,” and some coaches who empathize, “happens all the time.”
Lane says, “Yes. It is common, but it doesn’t have to be tolerated, accepted, or considered a new normal.” Leaking, or incontinence, is not a hopeless result of vaginal births. Similarly, getting up in the middle of the night, at any age, can be resolved.
First, what is the pelvic floor and what does it do?
These are the muscles that control urinary and fecal continence. Strong pelvic floor muscles help to lift the bladder higher in the pelvic cavity, stop the flow of urine, and, along with the anal sphincter, control gas and stool. Poor muscle function can lead to problems with prolapse!
Functions of the Pelvic Floor include
The pelvic floor is part of the core and works with the abdominal cylinder. These muscles need to be able to relax and contract. It is important to build your pelvic floor muscles to support other muscles of the torso.
Stress incontinence is the most diagnosed type of incontinence. This often occurs when laughing, sneezing, coughing, and participating in physical activity. These activities are directly related to abdominal muscles more commonly referred to when trying to build a six pack.
Do I have to have surgery?
There are some procedures that should be discussed with your doctor. Of course, there are several methods of relief to try in advance of surgery. Lane suggests physical therapy for incontinence, prolapse, frequency, etc. “Conservative treatment should always be the first option! Also, I still see many women following procedures such as bladder slings. The procedure may fix one problem, but cause another, or maybe it helped the problem(s) without complete resolution.”
Reduce Bladder Irritants
Alcohol*Beer/Wine Carbonated Drinks* Caffeine*
Coffee/Tea (decaf & reg)
Citrus Fruits/Juices Tomatoes
Spicy Foods Sweets Chocolate
Dairy Products Artificial Sweeteners
Top 10 Activities to Increase Bladder Fitness
- Go to the bathroom every 3-4 hours or 5-7x in 24 hours
- Go for 8 Mississippi’s
- A full bladder typically takes this long to empty. This can help individuals to determine how full their bladder is when the sensation to go
- SIT on the toilet
- Don’t hover. Yeah. Easier said than done in many public situations!
- Go before and after sex
- Voiding before and after sex is part of the contracting and relaxing process, as well as the cleansing process.
- Avoid using the wrong pads
- Use pads specifically for incontinence. Others can irritate the vagina when worn regularly.
- Abdominal strength
- Participate in exercises that strengthen your abdominal muscles. Try diaphragmatic breathing through a straw, single-leg lowers, and hollow body holds.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Correctly! Completely contract. Completely relax. Avoid just squeezing over and over.
- We will leave the “how” that gets done up to you!
- NO “Just in case” urinating, aka JIC-ing. Not even in the middle of the night!
Just In Case Peeing or JIC-ing
JICing pronounce /JIK-ing/ is “just in case” urination. This practice is often supported by society in many ways. We teach our children from a very early age to go JUST IN CASE before leaving the house, during school, or prior to a sports activity.
JICing trains the bladder to empty before it is full. JICing regularly will increase the need to go at the first sensation recognized by the bladder. Sometimes that sensation will be laughing, coughing, sneezing, jumping, bracing the abdominal muscles in general, or even riding on a bumpy road. Ever scurry off to the restroom during a workout because of a strong urge to “GO” yet only to have a few drops? That is the result of chronic JICing.
The duration between trips to the restroom will also shorten. For example, many people get up in the middle of the night several times to empty the bladder. Try to avoid going at the first sensation. Breath and relax to see if the urge passes. Sometimes habits are so deeply rooted, waking up seems to be normal. This may create some nights of poor sleep. If we can play the long game, sleep hygiene will only improve.
Lane stresses, “I see a major issue, not as much with weak pelvic floor muscles, but we never ‘let them go’ or relax. This is common when we have leakage, go too often, and/or have pelvic pain. Think of bicep muscle. If we always had our elbows bent and biceps contracted, not relaxed, we would not be able to pick up a gallon of milk. The biceps would fail. The same scenario occurs with PF muscles. If we never let them relax for fear of leaking, going way too often, etc. these muscles will fail when it is time to stop leakage.
We would suggest eliminating just one bladder irritant and adding just one action item in the beginning. Practice makes permanent. Be patient. Practice. Pee happy!