8 Exercises to Help Control Incontinence
Pelvic floor exercises can help control stress incontinence. These exercises can also strengthen muscles surrounding the pelvis, reduce prolapse, and even increase sexual sensation. As with any exercise routine, though, these exercises need to be done regularly to see results.
Bridge pose is popular in yoga and Pilates and should be done in sets of 10. Lie flat on your back on a mat with feet planted on the ground and hands extended to the sides. Lift pelvic area off ground making an arch, hold, and then come back to the start position. For added resistance, rest your feet or back on a medicine ball.
Vaginal cones are small weights which require you to use pelvic muscles to hold in place. They help target the pelvic floor muscles you need for increased muscle tone. Start with the lightest weight and once it can be held comfortably for 15 minutes twice a day, move on to a heavier weight.
Kegels are a series of contractions and release of the same muscles used to stop the flow of urine. It may take a few months to see results, but these exercises can be done while doing everyday tasks. Alternate between fast and slow contractions for five minutes, three times a day.Try not to squeeze muscles of the abs, thighs and buttocks or hold your breath.
Sometimes stress incontinence is the result of a tight pelvic floor -instead of a weak one- reacting to stress on the muscles when laughing or coughing. In that case, it's better to avoid kegels and try squats instead. Plant your feet shoulder width apart with hands outstretched and a straight spine. Lower yourself, keeping knees over ankles, then squeeze glutes as you rise back up.
These exercises help strengthen core muscles, as well as build engagement and awareness of the pelvic floor. Lie flat on your back with hands rested on the floor beside you, palms down. Your legs should be bent at an angle with your feet flat on the ground. Use pelvic floor muscles to lift and hold one leg up to a 90 degree angle. Release, then repeat on the other side.
Normal planks may be too intense for someone with a weakened pelvic floor since they put too much downward force on core muscles. Modify the plank by putting knees on the ground or doing a kneeling side plank. Make sure to keep your spine straight, shoulder blades down and chin slightly tucked in.
These encourage awareness and control of the spine and help coordinate hip muscles. With hands and knees on the floor, extend right arm and left leg out at the same time and hold. Release, then repeat on alternate side. As you gain strength and awareness, increase the amount of time you hold, focusing on pelvic muscle contractions. Aim for six to eight reps on both sides.
Pelvic tilts help the spine and increase flexibility. Lie on your back with knees raised and feet flat on the floor. Imagine a clock, with your belly button as 12 and your pubic bone as six. Tilt your ‘pelvic bowl’, or area between the belly button and pubic bone, back and forth between 12 and six. Then, try to rotate pelvis to all clock numbers. Focus on breathing and releasing tension.