OAB & Urinary Incontinence: 3 Ways To Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor

  • OB/GYN - Women's Health
  • June 17, 2021

Read Time: 8 minutes Overactive bladder (OAB) and urinary incontinence are common, especially after childbirth. Strengthening the pelvic floor can help.

How Common Is OAB?

Overactive bladder (OAB) occurs when the bladder cannot hold urine normally. Typically, this exhibits as a sudden and frequent need to go to the bathroom. The condition is more common than many people think. About 16% of Americans have OAB. However, due to the hesitancy to discuss the condition, the actual number may be higher. Fortunately, strengthening the pelvic floor can help to treat OAB and urinary incontinence.

ViralMD Connect OAB & Urinary Incontinence: 3 Ways To Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor

Why do people get OAB?

Simple overconsumption of fluids can lead to OAB. Some fluids, like alcohol and caffeine, act as diuretics, which cause the body to produce more urine. Certain health conditions, such as diabetes or multiple sclerosis, can lead to overactive bladder. Urinary incontinence may also occur due to weakened pelvic floor muscles. In these cases, patients may want to work on strengthening the pelvic floor.

1. Contract, then relax

Perhaps the most common way to strengthen the pelvic floor, Kegel exercises can help patients understand the pelvic muscles. To practice Kegels, contract the pelvic muscles and hold for 2-3 seconds. Then relax the muscles for 3 seconds. Over time, build up strength to holding the contraction for 5-10 seconds. For the most benefits, patients should do 3 sets of 10 repetitions daily.

2. Glute bridges

This exercise has a bonus benefit of also toning the glutes. When done correctly, glute bridges also activate and strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor. To start, lie flat on the floor. Bend the knees and plant the feet firmly on the floor. Place the arms by the sides with the palms face down. Breathe in and push through the heels, lifting the hips off the ground. Squeeze the glutes, hamstrings, and pelvic muscles. From the shoulders to the knees should form a straight line. Hold for 2-3 seconds at the top, then slowly lower back down.

3. Practice stabilization

The bird dog exercise helps patients to practice both balance and stability while strengthening pelvic floor muscles. Start on all fours with the wrists under the shoulder and the knees under the hips. With the spine straight, pull the belly in tight. At the same time, straighten and raise the left leg and the right arm. Hold for 2 breaths. Bend and lower the leg and arm back to the starting position and switch sides.

Why are my pelvic floor muscles weak?

As people age, a weakened pelvic floor is natural. For women in particular, childbirth can cause these muscles to weaken. Other risk factors include obesity, heavy lifting, chronic coughing, and age. To learn more about OAB, urinary incontinence, and strengthening the pelvic floor, speak with an OB/GYN or healthcare provider.

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