This week is World Continence Week, and the #pelvicroar campaign has been exploring the impact incontinence has on lives across the UK.
A weak pelvic floor is the leading cause for urinary incontinence. So we've spoken to pelvic health Physiotherapist and stand up comedian, Elaine Miller, to share some top tips on how to save your pelvic floor from harm.
1. A Kegel contraction is the same as if you were holding a fart in
Almost half of women that regularly exercise their pelvic floor are doing it incorrectly. Meaning they are actually causing more damage.
Try squeezing your bum as if you don't want wind to escape. Then squeeze the front as well, as if you are stopping the flow of urine. This should feel like a lift up towards your belly button.
It's as easy as that, one Kegel contraction done!
2. Breathe in, sigh out, squeeze and lift your pelvic floor
It's important that you breath deeply as you exercise your pelvic floor, to ensure you are fully relaxing between each contraction. Relaxing is as important as contracting, allowing blood to flow back into the pelvic floor muscles. This feeds and strengthens them, reducing fatigue and the risk of the muscles tightening.
A good way to put this into practice is holding a conversation whilst you exercise. John, at the desk opposite, shouldn't be able to guess that you are busy Kegel'ing whilst you are finishing that report.
3. Avoid bladder irritants like energy drinks, coffee and alcohol - it's all about the H2O
Water is amazing for pretty much every bodily function. It helps wash toxins out of your body and keep you regular.
If you find yourself taking too many trips to the toilet then consider cutting down your caffeine and alcohol intake. These are diuretics which stimulate the bladder to empty more frequently.
4. Don't get constipated! Sigh, hiss, moo to stop you from straining when you poo
Constipation is a killer for the pelvic floor, the added weight causes the muscles to weaken.
If you find yourself straining when you are on the toilet, you are working against these muscles. Try and distract yourself, and make sure you have enough undisturbed time to spend on the loo after meal times.
Go Better Toilet Stool's are perfect for bringing your knees up, putting you in the optimum position to empty without needing to strain.
5. Quick flicks every day keeps incontinence away!
And by quick flicks I mean quick contractions of your pelvic floor.
Doing your Kegels quickly improves the strength of your fast twitch fibres. These are the bits of muscle that fire into action when your bladder and bowel are put under pressure. Preventing an embarrassing leak when you cough or sneeze. Doing your Kegels slowly improves the strength of your slow twitch fibres. These are the endurance that means you can 'hold it' until you reach a bathroom.
To exercise all parts of the pelvic floor muscles you should complete 10 slow Kegels and 10 fast Kegels, 5 times a day.