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I was watching TV recently and an advertisement comes on talking about light bladder leakage and the need to wear these incredible pads.

I had seen some ads a year ago or so talking about the same thing, and they were showing grandmothers laughing and picking up grandchildren and saying how you might need some “protection” against light bladder leakage.  This made me mad.  I teach over 60’s exercise and fitness and went to my classes the following weeks talking about these ads, and how this is not acceptable.  The ads suggested that it is to be expected and nothing you can do.  I hate that.  There is always something you can do.  When our body is not doing what is used to be able to do, then it is time to look at what has changed not just accept it as an inevitable part of aging.  So many things that we are told are part of aging are not.  They are part of becoming less healthy and losing muscle tone due to lack of exercise.  And light bladder leakage is the same.

Unless you have had major nerve damage then you should not have leakage – male and female included.

The thing that has made me even madder about these recent ads, is the age of the women.  This new group of ads the women are about 35.  They are showing young women, running and playing with young children and suggesting that they are finding that they now have some leakage.  Arggghhhhhh…

WHAT??????

If you have light bladder leakage after having children then it is time to exercise – properly, not go and buy pads!!!

By properly, I mean exercising with the proper use of your pelvic floor.

If you are lifting weights, then lift up your pelvic floor first.

If you are doing sit ups – lift up you pelvic floor first.

Often when we exercise hard, we can push down on the pelvic floor thereby weakening it.  There have been studies showing that sit-ups can weaken the pelvic floor and this is why many physios do not like sit-ups.

It is not the sit up that is the problem.  It is not the lack of an incontinence pad that is the problem; it is the lack of understanding of how to exercise properly.

The floor of the pelvis is made up of layers of muscles and they stretch like a hammock from the tailbone at the back to the pubis bone in the front.  They support your bladder, uterus, and bowel.  The urine tube, the vagina and the back passage all pass through the pelvic floor muscles.  Each of these holes has a ring of muscles around that helps to control your bladder and bowel and keep your vagina nice a tight.

Pregnancy naturally relaxes the muscles and ligaments of the pelvis to allow for an easier birth, which is great to allow for a big head to pass through, but then the muscles need to be exercised again.

Menopause also affect the ligaments and bladder control.

Lack of exercise affects these muscles just as much as any other part of the body. It really is a case of use it, or lose it.

The solution is the same for all!!!!

Pelvic floor exercises.

These are essential for every woman,(and man) and it is not too early to start even before you have children.

There are a number of ways to describe what to do.

I suggest that you imagine your three holes and starting with your urine hole – tighten like you are stopping the flow of urine.  Sometimes this is the only instruction that people get, but it is only one of the holes.

For the vagina, either the same action, or imagine sucking water up into the vagina.  The pulling up action is important as often women think they are doing it right, but it is more of a tightening of the stomach muscles or a pushing down.  I want you to think of closing the hole and pulling up the muscles.

The back hole also needs to contract.  This is not usually such a big issue, but make sure that you are not contracting the buttocks as well.  It is just the ring of muscles around the back hole that we want to contract.

Fantastic, now you have your three holes all contracted.  How long can you hold that position – but keep breathing and keep the rest of your body relaxed.  I should not be able to see any movement.  See if you can hold for 10 breathes, then relax.  How much were you still holding on.

Once you have the muscles worked out, start practicing tightening them fast.  This is important so that you have the action ready for the big sneeze when you are desperate to go to the toilet.

Now practice the same actions when you are picking something up off the floor, or doing weights at the gym.

And hold that pelvic floor up whenever you are doing situps.  Can you hold for a slow situp and a slow lie down?  How much contraction was left?

I recommend practising everytime you stop at a traffic light.  It is something that we need to do every day for the rest of our lives, and you will save money on incontinence pads, and keep all your muscles healthy and ready to the job they were designed for.

This advice applies equally for men.  It is not talked about as much for men as they do not have the issues of pregnancy and child birth or the change of hormones, but the muscles are just as important for them and will help keep the dreaded old man dribbles at bay.

So next time you see an ad on TV you can get ranty too and yell at the women who are saying that this is just the way it is.  Do not accept poor health.
IT IS NOT ACCEPTABLE.