Bladder Control for Women - Kegel Exercises

Author: My Doctor - Kaiser Permanente

Now I'd like to introduce Larua Eral a physical therapist with Kaiser Permenante. She'll explain how you can exercise and strengthen the pelvic floor muscles She'll also give you some tips on lifting techniques to help with stress incontinence. Thanks Sue.

No matter what type of incontenece you have, the stronger your pelvic floor muscles are the more bladder control you have. That's why it's so important to exercise these muscles. In the nineteen fifties a physician, Dr. Arnold Kegel developed an exercise for women to help with incontinence. Known as the Kegel exercise, it targets specifically our pelvic floor muscles. What makes this a little challenging to demonstrate to you is that unlike other exercises we do for our body, this one deals with muscles that you don't ordinarily think about and certainly are not obvious to the eye. So the first challenge is to locate the correct muscles.

One suggestion I have is the next time you go to the bathroom try stopping your urine flow by contracting your muscles you'll know if you were successful isolating the pelvic floor muscles if you're you're urine flow slows or stops. This is just a way to get familiar with the muscles. Try this once or twice just to locate muscles. Repeating this more often can actually make matters worse. Another technique for locating the correct muscles is to insert your finger in your vagina.

And try to squeeze the muscles around your finger. Your finger should feel a slight pressure around it from the muscles. It is very important that you feel confident that you have isolated the correct muscles.

Bladder Control for Women - Kegel Exercises

If after trying these two methods you still feel unsure, don't hesitate to discuss this with your health care team. Now you're ready for the Kegel exercise. Start by lying down.

Find the pelvic floor muscles and simply lift or contract them for 10 seconds. Now ask yourself, am I feeling my stomach, buttocks or thighs tensing up? If the answer is yes, take a deep breath and as you exhale let those areas relax. You should only be lifting your pelvic floor muscles and keep breathing, don't hold your breath. Now that was one repetition. The conditioning program requires you to do this 4 times a day. Each exercise session should include 10 repetitions holding each contraction 10 seconds and then relaxing for 10 seconds and you will need to do this every day for two months.

As you get better at this, you can progress to doing them sitting and finally standing. I know the Kegel exercise is a very small muscle contraction, but I assure you if you follow this plan for two months, you will see a significant improvement in your bladder control. After two months, you can cut back to a maintenance program. This is you perform these only twice a day but still doing ten repetitions and still holding each repetition for 10 seconds. One more point, women with stress incontinence often expressed frustration that they can't lift anything without leaking urine doing the Kegel exercise will really help you with that and before you do lift something, just stop and consciously tighten your pelvic floor muscles, then lift. You'll feel the difference.

Now, Sue will talk about controlling urge incontinence.

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