We’ve all heard the saying ‘laughter is the best medicine’. Well, that’s definitely not true when you have what’s known as ‘Stress Incontinence’. Stress incontinence occurs when the muscles of the pelvic floor are too weak to prevent urination, causing you to leak when your bladder is put under pressure, for example when you cough or laugh.
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During a recent lecture I attended, delivered by Edinburgh based Elaine Miller, a physiotherapist who specialises in women’s health, I was shocked to discover that as many as 1 in 3 women between 35 and 55 and 1 in 9 men over the age of 65 will have a wee problem at some point. This could explain why the UK experienced record flooding in January…
Risk factors for incontinence include being female, pregnancy and childbirth, age, obesity, chronic coughs (e.g. smokers & asthmatics), and prostrate problems in men. But it’s not all doom and gloom. Our Australian physiotherapist friends down under (no pun intended) have shown in their research that 84% of patients who performed pelvic floor exercises cured their leaky waterworks.
“What are these exercises?” I hear you ask. Firstly you have to know how to contract your pelvic floor muscles. If you don’t know how to do this, imagine you’ve got some wind, but you’re in the company of your mother in law so need to hold it in. The muscles that hold in the wind are the muscles of the pelvic floor.
Then all you have to do is follow 3 steps:
1. Contract your pelvic floor for 10 seconds as hard as you can, then relax. You should feel a sag or a drop in your pants as you let go. No drop? Then your pelvic floor muscles are too weak, so you will need to build up the time gradually.
2. Contract your pelvic floor 10 times for 1 second at a time. That is, 10 quick flicks in a row.
3. Imagine you have a tiny elevator in your special place. Lift the elevator to the 1st, then 2nd, then 3rd floor and slowly back down again. This one can be trickier.
That’s it. Those are the exercises. Repeat them 3 times a day and be patient, as it can take a good 4 to 6 months to see a real change. Continue to breathe when you’re doing the exercises and relax the muscles in between. If you are struggling to feel the muscles contract, try them lying down, or lying down with a pillow under your hips so that gravity helps.
I know exercises are boring and easy to forget, but we manage to brush our teeth daily. If you need further advice, please get in touch with either Alana or myself.