Did you know:
55% of women wear pads during exercise
Studies show 55 % of women wear pads during exercise for urine leakage. In
addition, 20 % of women report stopping exercise and 16% changed exercise because of
leakage. “But I have had a few children”. “Isn’t it inevitable when women get older?”
Urine leakage is not normal under any circumstance. Urine leakage is not inevitable even
after children and when older. There is help. Exercising the pelvic floor muscles helps to
correct and avoid urine leakage.
Have you heard of Kegel Exercises? They are commonly taught in childbirth
classes, and often mentioned in women’s magazines. But what are they? Kegel exercises
are contractions of the Pelvic Floor Muscles (the muscles around your vagina and your
rectum). These muscles close off the urethra and rectum to keep urine and feces in until
you reach the toilet. Weak Pelvic Floor Muscles may let urine and feces leak out (often
at embarrassing moments). This is called incontinence. Strengthening the Pelvic Floor
Muscles helps to control or prevent incontinence of urine or feces. Many events in a
women’s life may contribute to Pelvic Floor Muscle weakness (childbirth, surgery,
menopause). All women should practice Kegel exercises to prevent or improve Pelvic
Floor Muscle weakness.
The Pelvic Floor Muscle is like any other muscle – USE OR LOSE IT. It is a
muscle under voluntary control and can be exercised with the same principles as the arm
or leg muscles. However, it is important to do the exercises correctly and long enough.
These muscles are inside the vagina, difficult to see and often difficult to feel. Many
women are unsure of how to do the exercise, get easily discouraged, stop and give up.
It is difficult to describe the Kegel exercise and often requires a medical
professional’s help to identify the pelvic floor muscles. Many women are told to stop
urine flow to identify the muscle. This can help you gain an awareness of the muscle but
is not helpful if the muscle is very weak and may confuse the bladder if it is done too
often. DO NOT STOP URINE FLOW AS AN EXERCISE. In order to perform the
Kegel exercise alone, it may help to visualize that you are in a crowded room of
important people and you suddenly feel that you have to pass gas. The activity of
holding back gas is the Kegel exercise. You can get more information about the muscle
if you insert your index finger a short distance into the vagina during the Kegel exercise.
You should feel the muscle squeeze and lift your finger into your body. It is very
important not to squeeze the buttock, legs or belly. It is a small movement, no one should
know you are doing the Kegel exercise, there is no movement on the outside of the body.
Start doing the exercises lying down in a quite place. In the horizontal position
(lying on your side or back), gravity does not pull down on the muscle thus making the
exercises easier. Second, it is important to pay close attention to what you are feeling
while doing the exercises. A quite environment helps you to concentrate better and focus
on the correct exercise. When you can do the Kegel exercise well, you can try advance to
the sitting and standing positions and then while doing other activities like driving or
Learning a new exercise is like learning to ride a bike; someone tells you a little about it,
holds the back of the bike for a little while, you discovery how to do it and then they let
go of the bike. Physical therapy for pelvic floor muscle strengthening (PLACE THE
ARTICLE “what can physical therapy do for urinary incontinence?” ) is just like
holding the back of the bike. We have machines and techniques to help you learn the
exercises correctly. Once you learn them, you must continue them on your own for
several months to see results. Try the suggestions in this article and ask your doctor for
more information. If you are unable to strengthen the muscle on your own, speak to your
doctor about individualized physical therapy.
By Beth Shelly PT, BCIA-PMDB