Urinary Incontinence and Kegel Exercises
By definition, urinary incontinence (UI) is any involuntary leakage of urine. Although UI can happen in both men and women, it is more commonly seen in women. Literature has shown that around 25%-45% of women have urinary incontinence.
Aging, pregnancy, vaginal delivery, and surgery are some of the risk factors that predispose individuals to urinary incontinence. Urinary incontinence limits the opportunities for post-partum women to engage in exercises which require jumping or heavy breathing. It is also one of the barriers or concerns to exercising outdoors (hesitation of going out for a walk with the concern of no public bathroom).
To its name, the pelvic floor muscles make up the floor of your pelvis. They support the womb, the bladder, and the bowels. If those muscles are weak, these pelvic organs might fall lower than they should be (i.e. pelvic organ prolapses) and further causing urinary incontinence. Pelvic floor muscle training (PFMT), specifically Kegel exercises, have been shown to improve or cure symptoms of urinary incontinence when it is compared to no intervention.
How to perform Kegel exercises?
Kegel exercises are essentially strength training of the pelvic floor muscles. They can be done in lying, sitting, or standing position. The goal is to lift and squeeze the muscles that slow and stop urination. Contract the pelvic floor muscles without contracting the abdominals, buttock, or inner thigh muscles. When you first start this exercise, contract your pelvic floor muscles for 5 seconds, and then relax for 5 seconds. Repeat 10 times. Ideally 3 times a day. It is important to note that more does not equal better. Overtraining will lead to fatigue or even negative consequences. Kegel exercise is an easy and simple way to prevent and manage urinary incontinence. If you have mild symptoms of urinary incontinence, feel free to try out this exercise and you will likely see positive effects in a few weeks or months.
If you have any musculoskeletal problems during or after your pregnancy, pelvic floor dysfunction, or urinary incontinence, our clinic’s physiotherapists can properly assess and treat you!
Angelini, K. (2017). Pelvic floor muscle training to manage overactive bladder and urinary incontinence. Nursing for women's health, 21(1), 51-57.
Huang, Y. C., & Chang, K. V. (2020). Kegel Exercises. StatPearls [Internet].