According to an article in the Autumn 1024 FitPro magazine (1) (a magazine for fitness professionals) 1 in 3 women will experience some form of bladder leakage during their lifetime. More than 50% won't seek professional help, chosing to manage it themselves. Problems with pelvic floor muscles are not necessarily age related. In a survey of 17 year olds, 35% said they had experienced leakage during sport at school.(2)
We find it embarasing to talk about, but what is the way improve our pelvic floor? The answer is within your control but will take a committment to work on your muscle strength.
1. Daily Pelvic floor exercises, three times per day for 12 weeks. Just 10 sets of 10-second holds and 10 short, strong contractions each meal time for 12 weeks should see you improve your muscle tone & help prevent leakage. If you cannot hold for 10seconds, hold for as long as you can and before long you will find that you build up the strength to hold the full 10 seconds.
2. Push your limits. Whilst it is tempting to avoid trampolening, sprints, jumping (including star jumps & skipping) and other stress incontinence promoting activities, by doing them you will actually improve muscle tone. Just do the activities in short intervals, maintaining control throughout, in a comfortable environment to improve your muscle control. Try to increase the duration of the activity to witness the muscles growing stronger. Again, if you find that you can't do an activity at all without leakage, then do a slightly less stressing activity that you can do for a limited time before you find you lose control. Try to build up to a more pelvic floor-stressing activity over-time.
(1) Fitpro Magazine, August 2014
(2) Bo K, Berghmans B, Morkved S, Van Kampen M (2007), Evidence-Based Physical Therapy for the Pelvic Floor Bridging Science and Clinical Practice, Churchill Livingstone.