Exercise and your pelvic floor health
FACT: Almost half of all women who exercise regularly experience some degree of stress urinary incontinence.
FACT: Only 30% of these women seek medical attention. Many times, an athletic woman is embarrassed to raise the issue with her physician and may wear a pad, modify her technique or stop exercise all together to cope with her incontinence.
FACT: Stress urinary incontinence is NOT a “normal” effect of aging, and it can easily be treated to restore quality of life. There are a wide variety of safe, easy and highly effective treatments available for incontinence and female pelvic disorders, depending on the exact nature of the problem.
Some important dos and don’ts on how to exercise and stay dry
DON’T strain!! Weightlifting should not cause your eyeballs to bulge or your teeth to grind. If it does, you may be putting too much stress on your pelvic floor.
DON’T engage in vertical deceleration sports (activities such as trampoline jumping, parachute jumping and perhaps even high-impact aerobics), which can contribute to injuries of the support tissues of your bladder and/or vagina.
DO feel free to exercise aerobically (low impact) as much as you would like. However, do not forget to exercise your pelvic floor, too! This can only be done through Kegel exercises.
What are Kegel exercises?
Kegel exercises, or pelvic floor muscle exercises, are done to strengthen the muscles that support the urethra, bladder, uterus and rectum.
Why are they important?
The benefits of achieving and maintaining good pelvic floor muscle tone are many and include:
• Prevention of urinary “dribbling” when coughing, laughing, sneezing or exercising.
• Possible prevention of the need for surgery later in life to pull up sagging uterus or other pelvic organs.
How are Kegel exercises done?
To identify the correct muscle, sit on the toilet with your legs spread apart. Begin to urinate, then contract the muscle (the pubococcygeus muscle) necessary to stop the flow of urine; hold; release. Repeat until you learn to control this muscle.
After you have determined that you are contracting the correct muscle, do NOT stop and start and stop the flow of urine except as an occasional check. We recommend that you incorporate Kegel exercises into your normal bathroom routine. After emptying your bladder, remain seated on the toilet and complete 10 Kegel exercises.
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