The Significance of Incontinence – Not Many Escape This Unpleasant Condition, Not Even the Young

Incontinence does not respect you.  It can occur at virtually anytime with little or no warning.  And when it does happen, you have that thought you have is typically along the lines, “Oh no, not again, I hope it is not that bad.”  

Until recently, incontinence has primarily been recognized as a condition amongst women who have recently given birth or who are older.  Athletes and fitness enthusiasts even have had the mindset that dealing with this issue is just part of the price you need to pay to be physically fit.

This is not entirely accurate.  Although each woman needs to be individually diagnosed, there are some commonalities that you need to be conscious of when it comes to identifying, acknowledging, addressing and treating incontinence.  

Recently I was interviewed for a US News and World Report article on incontinence by the amazing Anna Medaris Miller, and it appeared online at:

Incontinence: Shocking Numbers of Fit, Young Women Have This Embarrassing Problem

My contribution to the article addressed why fitness fanatics suffer from this issue due to training that has too much focus on strengthening just the core muscles.  

As the article implies, and I agree, your core and ab training is essential and beneficial to performance sports, but you also need to remember not to forget your internal muscles. Also, when you are looking at an exercise routine, it is important to look at a whole-body solution so that as one group of muscle groups strengthens, the other connective muscle tissues are also increasing in strength, flexibility, and endurance as well.  Alright, I don’t want to get ahead of myself ;).

In this post, I want to give you some additional practical tips on eliminating incontinence that are relevant to athletes and to any woman young or old who has suffered from the symptoms of incontinence.  After you look at some of the solutions that I recommend, try all of them and see which ones give you the greatest results.   In some instances,you may want to consult a health professional if you do not see improvement.   

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Ok now let’s get started…

Kegels and Reverse Kegels –  As I stated in the article, it is important to have a range of motion.  In other words, when I test for vaginal strength, I can immediately tell when a woman has done too many Kegels, since there is a point where these muscles can become too tight.  Women whose muscles are too tight often suffer from incontinence because they lack range of motion in the muscles fibers of the pelvic floor. So by first releasing the muscles and creating normal length and flexibility, you can then strengthen the muscles and work to lesson the symptoms of incontinence. In these situations normal Kegels are a detriment. I know for many of you this seems counterintuitive from the information that is out there, but this is the simple truth I tell my patients over and over.

Weight a minute –  Your body weight can also play a role in how quickly you can eliminate incontinence.  One thing that people don’t realize is that when you are overweight your muscle groups, both internal and external must compensate for the additional weight. When you combine this extra weight and a workout routine that does not promote muscle balance, the muscle will weaken, and due to stress on one group, you can make yourself more susceptible to leakage.

Put your bladder in training – One thing you can do to help strengthen the… muscle is to train your bladder.  The next time you need to urinate, and you are not involved in a strenuous activity, put it off for 10 minutes and work your way up to 20 minutes.  This exercise will help to train the bladder to delay its signal that says,”: hey it’s time to go!”

Supplements –  Your body is an incredible machine when you provide it with the proper nutrients, you can help with several factors that contribute to a healthy bladder.  I would suggest making sure you are getting enough magnesium which can contribute to reducing muscle spasms.  I would also check to make sure you are getting enough Vitamin D which promotes strong bone health.

Hydration –  It is not only important to stay hydrated, although that may sound counter-intuitive, by keeping your body hydrated, you will also avoid becoming constipated and keep fluids, actively flowing through your body.  Also, monitor if not eliminate caffeine and alcohol, as these are blader irritants and can contribute to urge and incontinence.

Yoga – I am a huge advocate for Yoga, and I believe it should be a foundational component of any exercise program.  Yoga should be very slow and deliberate with a focus on inhaling and exhaling while you perform the various poses.  As you become more attuned with your Yoga routine, you will be able to better respond to what your body is telling you and focus on exercises that will help to heal issues such as incontinence. I have developed a specialized yoga program for pelvic floor health. Check it out here.

Keep a journal – Now this is probably not at the top of your bucket list, but by monitoring your urinary patterns and when you do have leakage, you will notice patterns and be able to see when you are most likely to have leakage.  This will assist if you decide that you want to seek professional help.  It will also put you into the habit of healing.  In other words, by taking this small step, you will become more aware and mindful of this condition and therefore, subtly inspire you to continue on a path to complete healing.

When it comes to resources and tips that can contribute to the elimination or treatment of incontinence, please be sure to check out my website.  I currently offer courses and mini- courses that will help you in your journey to healing.  And if you are a professional, then you will be especially interested in my online master-class on pelvic floor muscles.

I hope this brief article can serve as a starting block to end your incontinence.  If you have a specific question you would like to ask my about incontinence or pelvic floor health, feel free to contact me and I will gladly point you in the right direction and answer your question.

Be great!!!

Like this post and want to go deeper on your healing journey? Sign Up here for my weekly newsletter and my complimentary Pelvic Health Starter E-Book.

About the Author
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ISA HERRERA, MSPT, CSCS

Isa Herrera, MSPT, CSCS is a New York City-based holistic women’s pelvic floor specialist, author of 3 books on pelvic health, including the ground-breaking self-help book, Ending Female Pain, A Woman's Manual. She has dedicated her career to advancing awareness of pelvic floor conditions so that more people can find relief from this silent epidemic that affects over 30 million people in the US alone. Ms. Herrera holds a BA in Psychology and Biology from Fordham University and also a Masters in Physical Therapy from Hunter College. Click here for a complete bio.