Posture - how does it effect incontinence?

Health Professional

Posture - how does it effect incontinence?

If I told you that your posture may be effecting your incontinence, would you believe me?   Is it true that a subtle tilt of your pelvis can effect where your pelvic contents shift inside?

Let's take a closer look at our posture and come up with our own conclusion.   As a physical therapist, I coach every single patient through appropriate posture on their first visit.   The reason for this is that subtle changes in our posture effect shoulder pain, knee pain, low back pain, neck pain, breathing, and so on.   Posture starts from the ground up with the way our feet contact the ground.   To obtain optimal posture, you should work to hold equal weight on each foot.   You want to have "soft knees", meaning that your legs are straight but you are able to wiggle your knees (they are not locked back).   Your hips and low back should be held in neutral spine which means that your buns are not tucked under, but you are not standing in a gymnasts posture either.   Rather you should hold your spine between these two extremes and stabilize the neutral spine position by pulling your belly button in toward your spine.   This tightens up your midsection like a corset, holding you in optimal posture.   To finish up through your spine, simply open up your hands.   This simple action is subtle but it has huge effects by rolling your shoulders back and where your shoulders go, your head will follow.   After hearing this advice, maybe you should call your mom and tell her she was right.   "Stand up straight, pull your shoulders back" was the best advise you never took.

So how can holding optimal posture effect incontinence?   To see this effect you must have a good visual of your pelvis and its contents.   Our pelvic outlet is bordered in front by our pubic bone, in back by our tail bone, and on each side by our two sit bones.   These bony borders are spanned by our pelvic floor muscles and connective tissue, forming a basket or a bowl within which we have our anal opening, our vaginal opening, and our urethral opening.   When we hold optimal posture, we actually tip this basket or bowl, tilting our pubic bone down to a position where it can give better bony support to the pelvic floor tissue.   This bony support takes pressure off our pelvic floor muscles, allowing them to contract more efficiently, keeping us continent as well as giving better support to our pelvic organs (specifically our bladder and uterus), helping to hold them in their optimal position for bladder function.   For a visual demonstration of this postural effect, go to and click on the posture video clip for a simple animation and verbal description of this pelvic shift.

Now that you have a good visual of why and how posture can help out our pelvic floor muscles, just imagine how important posture becomes when we are carrying a new born baby, when we are lifting anything of significant weight, or when we cough or sneeze.   All of these actions increase the pressure on our pelvic floor, so holding optimal posture becomes even more important to assist our muscles.   Challenge yourself throughout your day by checking your posture.   Finding your neutral spine can put you one step closer to regaining control of your bladder.

Tasha Mulligan: