How Pilates Can Help With Urinary Incontinence

There are several types of incontinence but the two main ones are stress and urge incontinence.

Urinary incontinence – the loss of bladder control – is a common and often embarrassing problem.  And whilst the condition can cause a great deal of stress, many people are too embarrassed to seek help to resolve the issue.

Stress Incontinence

This is when an involuntary urinary leak can occur when you cough, laugh, exercise (particularly jumping around!) or lift something heavy.

Urge Incontinence

This is when you have a sudden intense urge to go to the toilet followed by an involuntary leak of urine.  You may feel the need to urinate often, including during the night, or even after you went a few minutes prior.

So What Are The Main Causes?

Age – As you get older the muscles in your bladder and urethra lose some of their strength.  Changes with age reduce how much your bladder can hold and increases the chances of involuntarily urine release.

Overweight – Extra weight increases pressure on your bladder and surrounding muscles which weakens them and allows urine to leak out when you cough or sneeze.

Pregnancy – hormonal changes and increased weight can lead to stress incontinence

Childbirth – Vagina delivery can weaken muscles needed for bladder control and also damage bladder nerves and supportive tissue, leading to a dropped (prolapsed) pelvic floor.

Menopause – After menopause women produce less oestrogen, a hormone that helps keep the lining of the bladder and urethra healthy.  Deterioration of these tissues can aggravate incontinence.

Enlarged Prostate – Especially in older men, incontinence often stems from enlargement of the prostate gland.

Smoking – It is considered that smoking may increase your risk of urinary incontinence

Certain Foods and Drink – May act as diuretics stimulating your bladder and increasing your volume of urine.  Culprits tend to be foods high in spice, sugar or acid, caffeine, carbonated drinks and alcohol.

So What Are The Pelvic Muscles?

The pelvic muscles are a sling of muscles that reach from the back to the front of your pelvis creating a hammock effect that protects your internal reproductive organs, bladder and bowel.  They also assist in maintaining a pressure gradient that prevents the unwanted flow of urine.  The ability to engage the pelvic floor during the movements that often cause leakage can significantly decrease the amount of urine lost and save incredible amounts of embarrassment and stress.  Engaging these muscles has also been shown to help during episodes of urgency to buy you more time to scurry to the nearest 

So How Can Pilates Help?

Pilates is an exercise regime that was designed to develop a strong core.

In Pilates, the pelvic floor muscles are a natural muscular support when doing abdominal and core exercises.This is a firm and sustained engagement of the muscles where one is pulling the pelvic floor muscles in and up as part of exercises where abdominal muscles as well as other muscles are involved.  With a stronger core, comes a stronger pelvic floor which helps the muscles that control your bladder.  As a result, Pilates is becoming more popular as a treatment for stress incontinence.

High-impact exercise puts pressure and strains your pelvic floor muscles and can increase leakage.  So to strengthen your pelvic floor and to help relieve symptoms try adding Pilates to your exercise regime.