Incontinence

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Updated 13 September 2016

A step-by-step guide on how to do pelvic floor exercises correctly

Pelvic floor exercises aren't difficult to do and don't require specialist equipment but they can make a huge difference to one's bladder and bowel control, helping mitigate incontinence.

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A strong pelvic floor is crucial in controlling the bladder, and like any other muscle that has become weak, the muscles that support the urethra, bladder, uterus and rectum – known as the pelvic floor – can be trained to regain strength and flexibility, enabling them to effectively do the job of natural bladder and bowel control.

Pelvic floor exercises can be done almost anywhere, anytime, and without anyone noticing. There are no health risks and they cost nothing, but they must be done correctly and frequently for ongoing success.

Below is a guide from TENA, on how to do pelvic floor exercises correctly:

Where do I start?

1. First you need to find the right muscles. The best way to do this is to try and stop the flow of urine when you go to the toilet. If you can manage to do this, then the muscles you used are the right ones for pelvic floor exercises. However, this is only a test – don't make a habit of holding in your urine!

2. When contracting these muscles it should feel as though you’re squeezing and lifting them slightly up into the body. There shouldn't be any tensing of the buttocks or thighs, although tightening your anus can help (as if holding in wind).

3. If you’re having trouble identifying the right muscles then speak to your doctor, nurse or physiotherapist for additional help.

4. Once you’ve found the right muscles, you can start exercising them several times a day (30-40 repetitions in total). You should find you can do these in many different positions: sitting, standing, lying down – and no one will know what you're doing!

How do I do the exercises?

1. At first, just hold and squeeze your muscles for a second or two. Then gradually build it up to 10 seconds. Repeat as often as you can, building up to 10 repetitions.

2. Rest between squeezes for the same amount of time as you have contracted your muscles, i.e. rest for 10 seconds after holding for 10 seconds.

3. You can also try some fast, hard contractions where you squeeze as hard as you can, then let go straight away. Again, repeat up to 10 times.

4. As well as doing these exercises several times a day, you should also squeeze your pelvic floor muscles when you need them, e.g. laughing, coughing, bending, or anything that makes you leak urine.

How long will it be before I notice a difference?

Carry on doing your pelvic floor exercises for several months. You should notice a difference within 2 to 4 months of regular exercise, but physiotherapists recommend you continue for around 6 months.

Once you’ve got your bladder weakness under control you can then reduce the number of times you need to do these exercises. However, we recommend you carry on using these muscles every day, when you need them, to keep them working effectively.

For advice on bladder weakness products, please call us on 0860 673 377. Visit www.tena.co.za for more information or to order a free sample. You can also buy TENA products online at www.tenashop.co.za

Read more: 

Beating incontinence 

TENA - Incontinence & Kegel Exercises 

Urinary Incontinence - 10 things all men need to know!


 

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Incontinence Expert

Prenevin Govender completed his MBChB at the University of Cape Town in 2001. He obtained his Fellowship of the College of Urologists in 2009 and graduated with distinction for a Masters in Medicine from the University of Cape Town in 2010. His special interests include laparoscopic, pelvic organ prolapse and urinary incontinence surgery. He consults full-time at Life Kingsbury Hospital in Claremont.

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