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Can Exercises Help With Overactive Bladder?

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  • I have to go now!

    I have to go now!

    If you regularly experience a sudden and urgent need to urinate, you may have an overactive bladder. If you have this condition, you may feel the urge to urinate frequently (more than once every three hours). You may also leak urine involuntarily.

    Read more to learn how specific exercises can help you manage this potentially stressful and embarrassing condition.

  • Your muscles are working overtime

    Your muscles are working overtime

    Most people’s brains receive a signal when their bladders start to fill. This message tells them it’s time to go. If you have an overactive bladder, the muscles that ordinarily contract to release urine begin to contract involuntarily, and these involuntary contractions create a sudden urge to urinate. Other problems may also cause these issues.

    Performing certain exercises may help you control the urge to urinate and lessen your need to dash to the bathroom.

  • Pelvic floor exercises

    Pelvic floor exercises

    Pelvic floor exercises are also called Kegel exercises. They boost the strength of the muscles that support the bladder. This may help you gain control over your bladder muscle contractions.

    If you’re new to Kegel exercises, it may be tricky to identify the muscles you need to contract at first. With practice, you can learn to recognize the correct muscle groups and strengthen them over time. Try the following exercises to get started.

  • Locate your pelvic floor muscles

    Locate your pelvic floor muscles

    To find your pelvic floor muscles, stop urinating midstream the next time you go the bathroom. The muscles you contract to do this are your pelvic floor muscles. These are the muscles you need to activate when you’re doing Kegel exercises.

    You should only stop urinating midstream to identify your pelvic floor muscles. Don’t stop urinating midstream on a regular basis, as this can further weaken your bladder muscles.

    Instead, wait until after you’ve emptied your bladder to complete your Kegel exercises. 

  • Contract and relax your muscles

    Contract and relax your muscles

    Lie down on your back with your knees bent. Then consciously contract your pelvic floor muscles, tightening them while trying to keep the muscles in your buttocks, stomach, and legs relaxed. Hold for a count of five, and then relax for another count to five.

    Complete this contract-and-relax routine a few times in a row. As your muscles gain strength, increase your contraction time gradually until you can hold each contraction for a count of 10. Work your way up to three sets of Kegel exercises a day. As you get stronger, you can do them while standing or even sitting at your desk.

  • Check your technique

    Check your technique

    Kegel exercises only work when you do them correctly. To check your technique, rest your hand on your stomach as you contract your pelvic floor muscles. If your belly moves, you’re contracting your abdominal muscles. Try to keep them relaxed. 

    Next, try contracting your pelvic floor muscles while sitting in front of a mirror. If your body moves up and down slightly, you’re contracting muscles in your buttocks. Try to keep them relaxed as well.

    Take slow, deep breaths while doing Kegel exercises. This may help you isolate the right muscles, while keeping other parts of your body relaxed.

  • Be patient

    Be patient

    Kegel exercises won’t provide instant results. Like any form exercise, it takes time to build up your strength. According to the Mayo Clinic, it may take up to six to eight weeks of Kegel exercises before you notice improvements.

    Stick with it. Complete your Kegel exercises regularly, and don’t be discouraged if it takes time to get your symptoms under control.

  • Get help if you need it

    Get help if you need it

    If you don’t know if you’re doing your Kegel exercises right, enlist your doctor’s help. They can use biofeedback or simple observation to assess and guide your technique.

    If they use biofeedback, your doctor will insert a probe into your vagina or rectum to measure your muscle contraction and relaxation. The results will appear on a computer monitor. This can help you and your doctor learn if you’re isolating the right muscles. If you’re not, your doctor can help you improve your technique.

  • Exercise to stay in a shape

    Exercise to stay in a shape

    Being overweight can aggravate symptoms of overactive bladder. Exercising regularly can help you maintain a healthier weight.

    In addition to your Kegel exercises, try to complete regular aerobic workouts. For example, make time for daily exercise, such as walking, dancing, bicycling, or gardening. Slimming down may help relieve the symptoms of overactive bladder. Be careful with high impact exercises if you have incontinence, as it may become worse during the exercise.