Accidental leaking. Light bladder leakage. Incontinence. A bladd-ey hassle. Whatever you want to refer to it as, the fact is leakage can happen to anyone who has a urinary tract - and it’s far more common than you think.
While incontinence is more prevalent in women (one in three), one in ten men will experience incontinence over the course of their lifetime for several different reasons, click here to read about the common causes of male incontinence
With exercise, it’s most likely that stress incontinence is responsible for the leaks that accompany getting physical on a field, floor, court, or pitch. Stress incontinence occurs when there is excessive pressure placed on the abdomen or bladder, which most commonly happens when jogging, jumping or lifting weights.
It’s inconvenient. It’s frustrating. But there are ways you can be proactive and help mitigate the effects of incontinence so you can get on with life without holding back.
It is our pelvic floor muscles that are responsible for all things urine. Located between the hips, the pelvic floor is an area made up of muscles and tissues, which act as a hammock to support the bladder, the small intestine and the rectum. When the pelvic floor is weakened because of prostate cancer, diabetes, surgery or other conditions, incontinence can result.
However, the good news is that like any muscle in the body, the pelvic floor can be strengthened to help improve bladder control – and in some cases, regain bladder control completely.
The exercises that strengthen your pelvic floor are called kegel exercises. They target incontinence problem areas, and can easily be incorporated into your workout effective immediately. Here are four simple steps to get you started:
Locate your pelvic floor muscles by stopping your stream of urine mid-way through, or by tightening the muscles that stop you from passing gas.
Once identified, contract these muscles for three seconds and relax for three. Repeat this sequence ten times, and complete this set three times per day. You may find kegel exercises easier to do lying on your back at first, but as they strengthen, you’ll be able to work them out while sitting, standing and even walking.
For best results, tighten your pelvic floor muscles only. Try not to incorporate your abdominals, thighs or buttocks and remember to keep breathing as you work out.
If you are having trouble locating your pelvic floor muscles, or aren’t noticing any change in the strength of your muscles after six weeks, see your doctor or health professional – they’ll be able to ensure you are using the right muscles and give you personalised advice.
With commitment and regularity, adding kegel exercises to your daily routine will give you confidence to keep living the lifestyle you want. Plus, as well as giving you extra strength for the sports field, a strong pelvic floor can also improve your stamina in the bedroom - and even lead to more intense orgasms. So the only question is - what the bladd-ey hell are you waiting for?