Exercise tips for incontinence
Exercising can be daunting at the best of times – but especially so for incontinence sufferers. But fret not!
Firstly, there are plenty of incontinence products on the market which offer excellent protection from leakage during exercise. Secondly, there are exercises which you can undertake, which focus on strengthening the core muscles that are linked to incontinence problems.
These muscles are known as the pelvic floor. By improving their strength, you can enhance the support of your bladder and bowel and ease your symptoms.
As well as concentrating on your core and pelvic floor, it is also essential that you opt for low-impact exercises. By undertaking less strenuous exercise, you reduce your risk of leakage during the activities.
Below, we have put together some workout tips and detailed the top four exercises that are proven to be effective for improving incontinence symptoms.
Before your workout
Even though this article focuses on low-impact exercise, prepping is still very important.
It is essential that you avoid eating a large meal before exercise, as this can put pressure on your pelvic floor muscles. However, be sure to have eaten just enough to maintain your energy levels.
You should also refrain from drinking too much water, and consuming caffeine and other irritants such as sweeteners, as these are likely to aggravate your bladder and prompt unwanted urges or leakage.
If you are planning a visit to a gym or taking part in a class, check the venue has good facilities for you, in case you need them.
During your workout
Although you want to be wary of consuming too much water, you do need to stay hydrated – it can be equally challenging to control your bladder when you are dehydrated.
Make sure you sip small amounts at regular intervals throughout your workout, to maintain your fluid balance.
It also goes without saying that you will find it most useful to exercise near to a bathroom so that you can reach a toilet whenever you feel you may need to.
You might also wish to opt for looser, darker attire, as this will both assist in disguising incontinence wear such as briefs and will also help to conceal any leakages.
Top 4 Exercises for Improving Incontinence
#1 - Bladder training
Training your bladder is useful for maintaining longer intervals between bathroom visits. The simplest means of improving it is to make a note of how many times you visit the toilet each day and attempt to reduce it.
To do this, when your bladder is full, or you feel the urge to use the bathroom, simply hold out for as long as you can before passing urine.
This technique is likely to feel quite uncomfortable at first since you are adding pressure to an already problematic area. However, if you can persist in waiting just a little longer before returning to the bathroom, your bladder will eventually become accustomed to retaining more fluid, before prompting you with the urge to pass it.
#2 - Kegels
Excellent for both urinary and faecal incontinence – particularly stress and urge incontinence – Kegels focus on the pelvic floor muscles. You can identify these muscles as the ones which prevent you from urinating or holding gas. By tensing and releasing at regular intervals, you build strength.
Since the pelvic floor is often weakened for incontinence sufferers, you may find it easier to become familiar with this manoeuvre by holding urination midstream to get a feel for the movement involved.
However, you should only use this method for learning purposes. It isn’t a good idea to start and stop your urine regularly, or to undertake Kegel exercises when your bladder is full.
During the manoeuvre, be careful not to use the buttocks or thighs during the exercise, as it will make the activity much less effective.
The benefit of Kegels is that you can do them just about anytime, anywhere.
#3 - Yoga
Yoga is a very relaxed, low impact activity and focuses on improving your core, which includes a large group of muscles responsible for maintaining strength around the bladder and bowel.
Classes are designed around all ability levels – and you will be surprised by just how effective some of the simple poses are.
The benefit of Yoga is that, because it improves your core strength, you are enhancing both your posture and your pelvic floor simultaneously. And good posture can be an excellent means of reducing pressure on the abdomen and therefore your bladder and bowel.
You might find that wearing liners or even briefs will make you feel more confident to attend a yoga class comfortably.
#4 - Swimming
Swimming can help to strengthen your core and relieve pressure on the pelvic floor – which is welcome news to those who struggle with pain as a result of incontinence.
The water resistance naturally reduces the strain on your body, as it lifts your chest and lengthens your spine. That in turn reduces the pressure around your abdomen and allows you to move slowly and comfortably and at your own pace.
It is also possible to buy specially-designed swimwear which helps to prevent any leakage during swimming – so you can visit the pool with confidence.
We hope you have this information, but should you require any further advice, don’t hesitate to get in touch.