Urinary incontinence and poor bladder control is something that affects many women and unfortunately is not frequently talked about. There are many things that can contribute to urinary incontinence such as diet, surgical history, and pelvic floor strength. The pelvic floor is considered the group of muscles that forms a hammock within the pelvic and is very important when managing bathroom habits. Stress incontinence is a term used for incontinence when doing things such as sneezing, coughing, or jumping caused by poor pelvic floor strength. Child birth and menopause can both affect the integrity of these muscles and limit them from functioning efficiently.
The term “Kegel” is a well-known word for an exercise that strengthens the pelvic floor. Although this exercise is well known and attempted, a Kegel exercise if often done incorrectly. The problem is common and it’s that many people compensate and use muscles such as their abdominals, glutes, and hip adductors when performing a Kegel. This can exacerbate the problem because people do not isolate the pelvic floor muscles, and the results are poor effectiveness of the exercise and not true strengthening.
The Proper Kegel:
Goal: Gently tighten and lift the pelvic floor without using other muscles
- Keep glutes and abdomen relaxed
- Tighten the muscles as if you were trying to stop the flow of urine
- Imagine a string pulling those same muscles up towards your belly button
The endurance of these muscles is also an important factor for proper bladder control. It is recommended once you have properly tightened the Kegel, you hold it for five-10 seconds and perform a minimum of thirty a day to improve muscle strength. Simply, five minutes of exercise can greatly improve your strength and quality of life.
Physical therapy can significantly help train people to do a Kegel correctly and help manage urinary stress incontinence. At Therapeutic Associates, we can do a non-invasive evaluation and teach you how to do a proper Kegel by using our Real Time Ultrasound machine that shows you which muscles you are using while attempting the Kegels. Visually seeing how these important muscles are functioning help correct bad habits and strengthen the proper muscles. Combined with other techniques we can help combat urinary incontinence and allow you to get active without worrying about where the next rest room is.
If you have questions reach out to one of our Women’s health therapists.