Posts Tagged ‘pelvic floor exercises’

Pelvic floor exercises for men

January 15, 2016

Historically, pelvic floor exercises, have been recommended for women with urinary incontinence.  However, doctors have discovered that these same exercises are useful for men as well.  This blog will discuss the use of pelvic floor exercise for men.

The muscles of the pelvic floor not only hold organs in place, but they are also important for bladder control. Because these muscles often weaken with age, men are advised to exercise them regularly by doing pelvic floor exercises in order to maintain their continence of urine as well as having improvement in their sexual functioning.

What are the pelvic floor muscles?

The muscles that support the organs in the pelvic area are known as pubococcygeus or pelvic floor muscles. These muscles are like a trampoline or sling that stretches along the bottom of the pelvic area from the pubic bone in the front to the tail bone (or coccyx) at the back, as well as from side to side between the sitting bones. In men, they support both the bladder and the bowel, with the urethra (the tube carrying urine from the bladder) and the rectum (back passage) passing through the muscles. Pelvic floor muscles are also important for erectile function, and they work with other muscles to help stabilise the back. 

Why exercise the pelvic floor muscles?

The pelvic floor muscles naturally stretch and weaken with age, which can gradually make them less efficient. The muscles can also be weakened in men who often strain to empty their bowels – such as having constipation on a regular basis – who have a chronic cough, bronchitis or asthma, who perform tasks that involve repeated heavy lifting, and who are overweight or generally unfit. Having surgery for an enlarged prostate gland can cause the pelvic floor muscles to weaken, as can neurological damage such as from a stroke, diabetes, multiple sclerosis or a spinal injury.

Weak pelvic floor muscles in men can lead to stress urinary incontinence, in which small amounts of urine leak when pressure is placed on the bladder – for example, when bending forward, sitting, coughing or laughing – or urge incontinence, when there is an urgent need to urinate more often. You may leak just a few drops of urine, have a dribble after you finish urinating or leak a steady stream of urine. Weak pelvic floor muscles can affect erectile function too.

However, in a similar way that you can strengthen the muscles of your arms or legs through exercise, you can also strengthen your pelvic floor muscles.

These exercises are also recommended for men prior to having surgery for an enlarged prostate or prostate cancer to help improve their bladder control. They are also recommended for men who experience chronic pelvic pain syndrome – performing the exercises when pain starts can help to interrupt a cycle of pain-spasm-pain.

How can you find your pelvic floor muscles?

Before you start doing pelvic floor muscle exercises, it’s important to find the correct muscles to ensure you are exercising them. The next time you urinate, stop urinating mid-stream and concentrate on the muscles that allowed you to do this – these are also the same ones you use to prevent passing wind. Once you have emptied your bladder (don’t stop the flow mid-stream more than once), try contracting the same muscles – you should notice the base of your penis rising towards your tummy and see your testicles move up as you contract the muscles.

Another way to find your pelvic floor muscles is to sit comfortably or lie down, ensuring the muscles of your abdomen, thighs and buttocks are relaxed. Now, tighten only the muscles that control your back passage as if you are trying to avoid passing wind for a few seconds, then relax.

To ensure you aren’t squeezing other muscles, try squeezing your pelvic floor muscles again and:

  • Rest your hand on your tummy – you should not feel your abdominal muscles tighten
  • Pay attention to your breath – if you are holding your breath, you are using your chest muscles; try to breathe normally while squeezing your pelvic floor muscles
  • Sit in front of a mirror – if you notice your body moving up and down, even slightly, you are squeezing your buttocks
  • Watch your thighs – their muscles should be relaxed without noticeable movement in the upper legs. 

How should men do pelvic floor exercises?

Now that you’ve identified your pelvic floor muscles, simply contract them, squeezing and drawing up the muscles around your urethra and back passage at the same time, and holding them for a count of 5, then release the muscles slowly. By doing this simple technique, you have just flexed your pelvic floor muscles. Don’t hold your breath, and make sure you are not working other muscles such as those in the buttocks, thighs or abdominal area.

Wait a few seconds before repeating the technique, doing a set of 8-10 squeezes using strong slow contractions, then follow with one set of 8-10 quick rapid contractions. Repeat this sequence 4-5 times a day. Once you find it easy, you can increase the count for longer, up to 10 seconds. However, take care you don’t over-exercise the muscles and cause muscle fatigue towards the end of the day, thereby increasing urine leakage.

It will take 4-6 weeks before you notice any improvement, but after about 3 months you should experience the full benefit of doing pelvic floor exercises. At this point, you can change your routine to doing pelvic floor exercises twice a day.

If you have problems with incontinence or have recently had prostate surgery, you may be referred to a specialist who will help train you in how to do the exercise correctly and establish a program based on the strength of your muscles.

Pelvic floor exercises take very little time and can be done while sitting, standing, lying down or walking. Because others will not notice the muscles moving, you can do them discreetly during your everyday activities, such as while on a bus or train, sitting in a car, even standing in a queue – the main thing is to get into a routine of doing them every day. Try getting into the practice of doing them at the same time, such as when brushing your, after urinating, when commuting home from work or during advert breaks while watching the TV in the evening.

Bottom Line:  Pelvic floor exercises aren’t just for women but men can also benefit from these exercises.  Men should consider doing these exercises that don’t require any equipment, very little time, and have very effective results.

Incontinence in Women-You Don’t Have To Depend on Depends!

August 6, 2014

Many women suffer in silence with their problem of urinary incontinence. About 1\3 of women between 40-70 have a problem of urinary incontinence and it is more common in women after menopause. This blog will discuss the problem and what are some solutions to this common condition that affects the quality of life of so many women.

Urinary incontinence, the loss of bladder control, is a common and often embarrassing problem. The severity ranges from occasionally leaking urine during a cough or sneeze to having an urge to urinate that’s so sudden and strong it’s impossible to get to a toilet in time.

Having accidents as an adult can be deeply embarrassing and most women don’t want to talk about it, yet it is far more common than many sufferers realize.

And the condition not only affects women’s confidence – it can also lead to mental health issues. Half (51 per cent) of women with adult incontinence (AI) also suffer from depression.

Because of the embarrassment surrounding the condition 60 per cent never seek help from their doctors, and of those who do 28 per cent delay seeking treatment for up to three to five years because they are ashamed.
Yet this common phenomenon can happen to women at any age and for many reasons including childbirth, the menopause or strenuous exercise.
This condition can also affect patient’s sex lives, with more than a quarter admitting it made them worry about sexual intimacy with their partners.

A large majority women said they had to change everything from the clothes they wear, the bags they carry, the way they travel, where they go and how they socialize.
They don’t always realize that help is available and that there are the right products out there that offer the comfort and protection women need to live life to the full.

Low impact sports such as cycling, yoga or elliptical machine exercises are ideal activities for keeping fit without affecting a sensitive bladder condition.

Abdominal workouts such as sit ups, crunches or plank kicks place a lot of pressure on the pelvic floor. Opt for alternative exercises where breathing or the position itself supports the pelvic floor.

PELVIC FLOOR EXERCISES
Pelvic floor exercises and targeted Pilates and yoga exercises can be particularly helpful. By practicing at least three times a day, they can help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and give more control when needed..

DRINK JUST ENOUGH
There’s no need to avoid drinking in order to reduce the urge to visit the bathroom. Limiting water intake makes urine more concentrated, which boosts the chances of bladder irritation.

NO HEAVY LIFTING
Lifting heavy objects is particularly bad for the pelvic floor and back. Ask for help instead.
Just Say No To Caffeine
Caffeine, alcohol and carbonated drinks could be your new worst enemies. Try limiting coffee, tea and carbonated beverages for a week or two as they can irritate a sensitive bladder.

SET A SCHEDULE
Your bladder is trainable. If you need to pass water frequently and need to rush to the restroom, ask your PCP about a daily schedule for building up the bladder’s holding capacity. Remember, allow your bladder to empty completely each time you go to the toilet.

WEAR BACK-UP
A growing number of pads for day and night use as well as absorbent underwear and bed pads are available at high street pharmacy chains. Wearing one may be the difference between being stuck at home and feeling able to go out for periods of time.
Most cases can be improved with simple lifestyle changes and pelvic floor exercises as well as by finding the right products for you.

Bottom Line: By doing daily pelvic floor exercises, you can decrease your incontinent episodes and not only build your pelvic floor muscles but also build your confidence.

A Hop, Skip and a Jump May Just Help Women With Urinary Incontinence

April 9, 2014

Urinary incontinence affects millions of American women. It is a quality of life condition that can lead to embarrassment, anxiety, and even depression. Conventional treatment is medication, exercises, and surgery. Now a new study from Canada has shown that dancing may strengthen the muscles in the pelvis and help control urinary incontinence.

Women were provided a series of dance exercises via a video game console in addition to a program for pelvic floor muscles exercises. The results revealed a greater decrease in daily urine leakage than for the usual program (improvement in effectiveness) as well as no dropouts from the program and a higher weekly participation rate (increase in compliance).

According to the researchers, fun is a recipe for success. The researches suggested that the more you practice, the more you strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. The investigators quickly learned that the dance component was the part that the women found most fun and didn’t want to miss.

The dance period also served as a concrete way for women to apply pelvic floor muscle exercises that are traditionally weak an ineffective to help hold the urine in the bladder until it is convenient to empty the bladder in a toilet. Dancing gives women confidence, as they have to move their legs quickly to keep up with the choreography in the video game while controlling their urine. They now know they can contract their pelvic floor muscles when they perform any daily activity to prevent urine leakage. These exercises are therefore more functional.

This is the first time that it has been used to treat urinary incontinence.

Bottom Line: Dancing may be effective in helping women with a problem of urinary incontinence. If this is a problem that is affecting your life style, contact your physician. Help is available. You don’t have to depend on Depends!

Bladder Control-You Can Do It

March 28, 2010

Self-Care
You can take these steps to help improve control of your bladder:

  • Behavior modification. This may involve timed urination — going to the bathroom according to the clock rather than waiting for the need to go. You may start off urinating every hour or so and then build up to a longer interval.
  • Pelvic floor exercises (Kegels). These exercises involve learning how to contract and release your pelvic floor muscles in order to strengthen those muscles. These are the internal muscles you contract to stop the flow while you’re urinating. If you have problems doing the exercises, biofeedback may help you learn how to control your pelvic floor muscles. In biofeedback, a monitor helps you see the strength of your contractions and if you’ve contracted the right muscles. For incontinence that isn’t caused by nerve damage, these exercises may bring noticeable improvement in 8 to 12 weeks. If you’re a woman, you can use a vaginal cone to improve muscle strength. You insert a tampon-shaped cone into your vagina and hold it there by contracting your pelvic floor muscles. Holding the cone and contracting pelvic floor muscles may increase muscle strength. As your muscles grow stronger, you increase the weight of the cone.
  • Diet. Avoiding certain foods and drinks may improve incontinence in some people. Alcohol and caffeine relax the sphincter muscle and are mild diuretics. Carbonated drinks, citrus fruits and juices, spicy food, chocolate or artificial sweeteners may irritate your bladder. Drinking less liquid before bedtime also may help.
  • Hygiene. Problems with urine leakage may require you to take extra care to keep your skin clean and free of irritation. Frequent wiping with a cloth and use of moisturizers and creams may help with cleanliness. Deodorizing tablets may eliminate urine odor. A variety of pads, pants, shields and other devices is available to control urine leakage. Many women find absorbent pads made for urine leakage much less irritating than menstrual pads. Ask your doctor which devices to control urine leakage might work best for you.