When you’re juggling a busy life, the last thing you want to do is get slowed down by having to deal with light bladder leakage.
It’s more common than you might think; 1 in 3 women experience LBL with more than 40% of them being under 45 years old. Many women will experience incontinence during and after pregnancy, and it can even happen to elite athletes from excessive high impact exercise.
In many cases, the best thing you can do to help improve LBL is to strengthen your pelvic floor – the muscles that provide support to the bladder, uterus and bowel. If you’ve ever heard of your ‘core’ muscles, your pelvic floor forms the base of these, helping to maintain pressure inside your abdomen.
The good news is that pelvic floor exercises, or Kegel exercises, are quick and easy to perform.
How to strengthen your pelvic floor
Just like strengthening your biceps with a gym programme, pelvic floor muscles can also become stronger with regular exercise by simply starting off slowly, then building up the repetitions and duration.
Here’s how to start practicing Kegel exercises:
- Sit, stand or lie down so that you are relaxed and comfortable, check that all other parts of your body – especially your stomach and bottom muscles – are relaxed.
- Squeeze and lift your pelvic floor muscles as strongly as you can so you can feel them ‘lift’ upwards while continuing to breathe normally.
- Aim to hold the squeeze for 3-10 seconds.
- Rest for 5-10 seconds, then repeat the exercise up to 10 times through.
- Ideally, repeat three to four times a day.
It may be tricky when you first start out, but it’s important to keep practicing. Make sure you continue breathing normally and don’t hold your breath or compensate by squeezing other muscles in your abdomen, buttocks or thighs.
If you can’t find your pelvic floor
The easiest way to identify the right muscles is by trying to stop and start your urine midstream when going to the toilet.
If you can stop the flow, you’re working your pelvic floor. This is a good guideline to get you started, however, try to train them with the normal Kegel exercises once you’ve got the feel for it, as trying to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles while peeing may cause other bladder issues if performed on an ongoing basis.
Other exercises to keep you fit
Almost every exercise you do affects your pelvic floor in some way – some forms of exercise can even help strengthen the muscles further.
Doing low impact exercise such as swimming, walking, seated cycling and water walking are great activities to keep you fit as they don’t put as much pressure on your pelvic floor. Pilates and yoga are ideal forms of resistance training as they can also help improve your core strength.
Some forms of exercise may make LBL worse; until you start seeing results from doing Kegels, you may want to limit high impact activities such as boxing, skipping, running, jumping and agility sports like netball or soccer.
Other activities that may trigger LBL include deep squats or lunges, lifting or pressing heavy weights and abdominal crunches. These are movements that put excess pressure on your pelvic floor region.
Stay in control
After starting to regularly practice Kegel exercises, most women typically see results in around 6-12 weeks. Some may even notice the difference straight away. Once you feel that you’ve got the hang of it, you can practice them anywhere at any time – when you’ve stopped in your car at the red light, while you’re watching television, sitting at your work desk, or even while you’re pushing the shopping trolley around the supermarket. As the exercises are discreet, nobody will know!
Ideally, they should be part of your daily routine; the same as brushing your teeth or washing your face.
While you’re building those pelvic floor muscles, make sure you’re protected with new Carefree Plus liners for Light Bladder Leakage. They absorb more fluid than period liners† but are still thin and discreet so you can stay comfy and dry all day, every day.
For a free sample, head to becarefree.co.nz/plus
®Registered Trademark Johnson &Johnson †Compared to Carefree Original Liners
This post was sponsored by Johnson & Johnson Ltd.