The pelvic floor muscles are important for controlling and preventing accidental leakage of urine. Incontinence affects both sexes but is thought to be more prevalent in women due to the nature and location of the pelvic floor muscle.
As we age, the pelvic muscles become weaker and thus many men and women will need aids to control and manage incontinence, such as those on offer from Hartmann’s incontinence products. Occasional incontinence can be easily managed but, many people find being incontinent embarrassing, making living an active life difficult.
Keeping your pelvic floor muscles strong
In many cases, what can help incontinence in both women and men is to keep these pelvic floor muscles as strong as possible for as long as possible. Although they weaken with age, by regularly exercising these muscles it is possible to retain control over your bladder.
Although you will see many articles and exercise suggestions for women, men can also do pelvic floor exercises. In cases of stress incontinence (when you sneeze or laugh, for example), these exercises can be incredibly effective.
How to do pelvic floor muscles
Unless you have reason to ‘find’ your pelvic floor muscles previously, you may be unsure where they are! The advice when it comes to finding the right muscles is to attempt to stop the flow of urine the next time you visit the toilet. You have located them and the sensation of clenching them, you will know which muscles you are exercising.
Continually stopping and starting the flow if urine is not good for your bladder as research suggests that this stop/start motion can encourage urinary tract infections.
Start pelvic floor muscles by sitting comfortably and at a time when you can concentrate on the muscles and the sensation. Once you are used to doing the exercises, you will be able to do them without really thinking about it.
Squeeze the pelvic floor muscles 10 to 15 times. You need to ensure that you breathe through the exercises (many people hold their breath!) and also do not tighten your stomach muscles, nor your buttocks or thigh muscles.
Once you have mastered the squeezing of the pelvic floor muscles, try to hold the squeeze for a few seconds at a time.
You should regularly squeeze your pelvic floor muscles so that you regain control and strength. You will notice that your stress incontinence will improve. But, like all muscles and exercise, you need to make sure that you do not overdo it.
When you squeeze your pelvic floor for 10 to 15 repetitions and hold each squeeze for a few seconds, make sure you leave a gap between the sets so that the muscles have time to relax.
Like all exercise, when you get to a certain point, your muscles are strong enough to begin to develop to another level of training. The same is true of the pelvic floor muscle.
Once you feel you have far better control over your pelvic floor, why not try these exercises?
- Endurance training – increase the hold time of the squeeze whilst decreasing the relax time e.g. squeeze and hold for 10 seconds, rest for three seconds
- Sprints – the quick flexing and relaxing of the pelvic floor muscles can also be helpful. Squeeze and relax five times in quick succession followed by a five second rest after each set. Do around 30 a day, three time a week.
- Change position – most people tend to do these exercises when they are sat down. Changing your position can help increase the effectiveness of the exercise. Thus, stand up and do the sprints exercise or the endurance.
Should you stop pelvic floor exercises?
You should carry on with these exercises, even when you notice that there is an improvement. Many people also find that there are many other welcome benefits from a strengthened pelvic floor. As well as improving the control and management of incontinence, many women find that sensitivity to sex is heightened too, making it a far more pleasurable experience.
Many women are also advised to begin these exercises in pregnancy. Research has shown that a strong pelvic floor can lessen the possibility of complications, as well as helping with post-pregnancy incontinence.
In many cases, accidental leakage of urine can be resolved with the strengthening of the pelvic floor muscles. It can also help to manage and make holding on until you reach the toilet a little easier too.