Exercising your pelvic muscles every day can make them stronger and help to improve incontinence. The following exercises are easy to learn and simple to do.
If you have stress incontinence, try to do these exercises just before a sneeze or a cough. Also try to do a few exercises before you lift something heavy or cumbersome. By exercising faithfully and correctly, you’ll notice an improvement in about 4 weeks. In 3 months, you’ll notice an even greater improvement.
The muscle you want to strengthen is called the pubococcygeal (PC) muscle. This is the muscle that controls the flow of urine. You can find this muscle by voluntarily stopping the stream of urine or by pulling in on the rectal muscle as you would to retain gas. Strengthen and tone your PC muscle by performing one of the two motions described below. Hold the muscle tight, working up to 10 seconds. Then relax the muscle for 10 seconds. Do 15 exercises in the morning, 15 in the afternoon, and 20 at night. Or exercise for about 10 minutes, three times a day.
You can do Kegel exercises almost anywhere and at any time. Most people sit in a chair or lie on a bed to do them. You can also do them standing up. An easy way to remember to do these exercises is to combine them with an activity you do regularly. For example, if you spend a lot of time in the car, do an exercise at every red light. Or exercise while standing in line at the grocery store or at the newsstand, while waiting for the bus or train, and especially while urinating.
Take time to think about which muscles you’re using. If you find yourself using your abdominal, leg, or buttocks muscles, you’re not performing the exercises correctly. Here’s an easy way to check yourself. Place one hand on your abdomen while you perform the exercise. Can you feel you abdomen move? If you can, then you’re using the wrong muscles. Or, if you abdomen or back hurts after exercising, you’re probably trying to hard or using abdominal or back muscles that you shouldn’t be using. If you get headaches after exercising, be careful not to tense your chest muscles or hold your breath. These exercise should feel mild and easy, not strenuous.