Fighting urinary incontinence: exercises and simple daily habits
One in three women over the age of 18 experience bladder leaks every day, and yet, many of us feel alone when facing urinary incontinence.
Urinary incontinence is still such a taboo that 57% of women suffering it never tell anyone according to our recent survey of 2,000 women.
We want to open up the conversation and encourage women to talk about it, so no woman has to feel embarrassed and alone by an issue that can, and should, be treated.
While common, urinary incontinence shouldn’t become the new normal. You should be able to run, jump, cough or sneeze without drops. Besides visiting a health professional, there are easy things you can incorporate into your daily routine that will strengthen your pelvic floor and help with urinary incontinence.
10 easy daily habits to help you end urinary incontinence
- Sleep seven to eight hours a night. This is the optimal amount for most people. A good night’s sleep boosts your immunity, regenerates neural pathways in your brain as well as repairs muscles and connective tissue, which is key for pelvic floor balance and protection.
- Go for a walk. Include a 20 minutes walk in your daily routine. Walking helps stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, which works to relax and slow down our bodies.
- Do daily breathing exercises. Improve your diaphragmatic breathing with a 10 min exercise routine. Inhale through the nose for between 4 or 6 seconds, feel how your tummy and lungs expand as you breathe in, and how your lungs empty as you exhale from the chest down.
- Stay hydrated. Drink 6 to 8 glasses of water per day. This is recommended for an average adult, although it may vary from person to person. You may think that when suffering urinary incontinence you should be cutting down on liquids, however, drinking enough water is essential for bladder health.
- Lower your caffeine intake. Cut down on coffee, black tea and energy drinks, and try non-caffeinated herbal teas or lower caffeine alternatives such as matcha lattes. Caffeine is a bladder stimulant and it increases the kidney’s production of urine, which may irritate your bladder and make incontinence worse.
- Quit smoking. Smokers have a higher risk of bladder control problems. Constant coughing puts strain on your pelvic floor muscles, weakening them. This means that they may not be able to support your bladder, resulting in urinary leakage.
- Cut down on alcohol. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means that it increases the production of urine, which can lead to an overactive bladder. Alcohol also interferes with the signals to and from the brain and the bladder.
- Increase your fibre. Eat high-fibre foods such as lentils, green leafy vegetables and beans. This can help ensure a healthy bowel movement and avoid constipation. Straining to empty your bowels puts pressure on your pelvic floor and may damage it.
- Avoid spicy and acidic foods. Tomatoes, tomato-based products, curries, chili and citrus fruits (including lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruit) may irritate the lining of your bladder and make incontinence worse.
- Exercise your pelvic floor daily. Regular kegel exercises can improve pelvic floor dysfunctions, including urinary incontinence. Squeeze and lift your pelvic floor as you exhale, hold this contraction for five seconds, and then relax for five seconds. Repeat this sequence five times, three times per day.
If you’re recovering from childbirth, you may want to integrate pelvic floor strength into movements that you do on a daily basis.
You can also give your pelvic floor a complete workout by using a pelvic floor trainer. Devices incorporating biofeedback technology can help you exercise your muscles correctly. Elvie Trainer can detect if you’re pushing down rather than lifting up the muscles and alerts you via the app, helping you to get it right.
For more information about how Elvie Trainer works and how to use it, check out our support page.