Exercises that strengthen the pelvic floor muscles can help hold urine inside the bladder, preventing leakage. These are commonly called “Kegel” or pelvic floor muscle exercises, named after the doctor who developed them.
Dr. Shaw encourages Kegels exercises as a simple way to have dramatic results without surgery or medications! Although many women may feel they have a good comprehension, (I highly encourage) visiting with a specialized physical therapist for proper training is highly encouraged. It’s like having a personal trainer for your bladder! The sessions are private, and you will be able to complete exercises at home as well.
- Technique #1 – Everyone, at one time or another has been in a crowded room and felt as if he or she were going to pass gas or “wind.” Imagine that this is happening to you. Most of us will try to squeeze the muscles of our anus to prevent the passing of gas. The muscles being squeezed are the pelvic floor muscles. If you feel a “pulling” sensation at the anus, you are using the right muscles. In most of our patients, we have found this to be the most successful technique.
- Technique #2 – For women, lie down and insert a finger into your vagina. Try to squeeze around your finger with your vaginal muscles. You should be able to feel the sensation in your vagina, and you may also be able to feel the pressure on your finger. If you can, you are using the right muscles. If you cannot detect any movement with one finger, try two fingers.
- Technique #3 – For men, stand in front of a mirror and watch your penis. Try to make your penis move up and down without moving the rest of your body. If you can, you are using the right muscles.You may not find your pelvic floor muscles immediately. Many people have to take their time with this.
Don’t Exercise the Wrong Muscles!
If you find yourself holding your breath then you are probably using your chest muscles. First, relax completely and notice how you are breathing for a few moments. Then, squeeze your pelvic floor muscles while you continue to breathe normally. This will help to assure that you are not using your chest muscles because chest muscles are usually relaxed when you breathe.
The other set of “wrong muscles” are the muscles of the buttocks (bottom). To test whether you are also tightening your buttock muscles by mistake, squeeze your pelvic floor muscles while sitting in front of a mirror. If you see that your body is moving up and down slightly, you are also using your buttock muscles.
Another set of muscles used are the thigh muscles. If you see your upper legs moving which will cause your entire body to lift, you are contracting the wrong muscles. When done properly, no one should be able to tell that you are squeezing your pelvic floor muscles–except for you.
Strengthening your Pelvic Floor Muscles
Each exercise consists of squeezing and then relaxing your pelvic floor muscles. Squeeze the muscles for three seconds and then relax the muscles for three seconds. It is common for most people not to take the time to relax between squeezes. You must allow the muscles to relax between squeezes so that your muscles can rest before squeezing again.
Doing Your Exercise Program
- Lying down squeeze for 5 seconds and relax for 5 seconds, fifteen times
- Sitting down squeeze for 5 seconds and relax for 5 seconds, fifteen times
- Standing up squeeze for 5 seconds and relax for 5 seconds, fifteen times
You should build to 10 second contractions. Remember to squeeze and count slowly “1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10″ and relax the muscle and count “1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10.” Continue with forty-five exercises twice a day.
Using Your Pelvic Muscle to Control the “Urge”
These Exercises Cannot Harm You
Making These Exercises Part of Your Life
- standing at the sink and brushing your teeth
- you get up in the morning
- you are washing dishes
- putting on your make-up
- sitting in the car at a stop light
- sitting and having dinner
- reading a book in bed
- watching TV – during each commercial
- going for a walk
- talking on the phone
- having sex
Do your exercises during your daily activities or routines. You do not have to keep a formal count of the number of times you do each exercise—just do it several times in a row. Do them often enough to make them a habit.