If you're someone who suffers from a weak bladder, you may feel the need to urinate more frequently and suddenly. This condition can be caused by numerous factors, such as nerve damage, medications, alcohol, caffeine, or obesity.
Incontinence can be an extremely difficult condition to deal with — but luckily, there are some things you can do that may alleviate the situation. Notably, bladder training and behavioral changes can be helpful.
Many bladder control exercises target the pelvic floor muscles, and are known as Kegel exercises. These exercises strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and offer you more control over your bladder.
These exercises can be ideal for men and women of any age who are suffering from incontinence. They are simple to do, and require no equipment.
What Are Bladder Control Exercises?
Almost 25% to 33% of the US population suffers from a weak bladder1.
Kegel exercises are considered one of the most authentic and non-surgical ways to enhance a weak bladder. As a weakened bladder causes the weakening of your pelvic floor muscles, these exercises aim at supporting them. They involve only your pelvic muscles and not your stomach or chest muscles.
In general, these bladder control exercises are highly effective for stress urinary incontinence. However, they can be performed by those suffering from urge incontinence as well.
Notably, men suffering from urinary incontinence after prostate surgery can benefit significantly by doing Kegel exercises for strengthening purposes. By strengthening the muscles controlling the urethra, bowel, and bladder, it makes it possible to better control incontinence and potentially even reduce it significantly.
How Do You Locate Your Pelvic Floor Muscles?
The first step you need to take before performing pelvic floor exercises is to find your pelvic muscles. So, when you feel the urge to urinate, start urinating and then stop. You’ll feel certain muscles around the bladder or anus tighten and move upwards.
Also, you’ll feel a contraction in the back of your pelvic section, and possibly in the front. If you feel this, then you’ve properly located your pelvic muscles. While doing this, relax your buttocks, abdomen, and thighs.
However, you shouldn't make a habit out of doing this practice of locating the pelvic muscles during urination. This is because stopping urination before emptying your bladder frequently can cause irritation.
Where Can You Do These Bladder Control Workouts?
The most convenient aspect of these workouts is that you can do them anywhere and anytime. No one will notice it unless you inform them. It will just feel like you’re clenching your pelvic muscles in. You can do them while sitting in your car or watching television.
You can also do these exercises at specific periods throughout the day. Just make sure to maintain regularity for strengthening your pelvic muscles.
Performing the Basic Bladder Control Exercise
Now that you’ve located your pelvic floor muscles, you can do the basic bladder control exercise.
- First, you need to sit or lie down after ensuring that your bladder is empty. Then, pretend that you’re stopping your peeing and tighten the pelvic muscles. Squeeze and hold for 5 to 10 seconds.
- After that, slowly relax your muscles and rest for around 10 seconds. Repeat these contractions about 10 times and do 3 sets a day.
- Always try to breathe in deeply and relax your body while doing the exercise.
- Be sure not to tighten your stomach, buttocks, chest, or thighs. Repeat this exercise for 3 to 4 weeks, and you should see some improvements in bladder control.
- However, never overdo it or increase the number of contractions too much. It can strain your bladder and cause complications in urination and bowel movements.
Top Bladder Control Workouts
Some effective pelvic floor exercises2 include:
Sitting Fast-Twitch Muscle Workout
Your body has fast-twitch muscles, which offer sudden energy boosts during activities like jumping. As they are located in your pelvic area, working these can help you control incontinence.
- You need to calm your body and breathe in properly before starting this exercise.
- Locate your pelvic muscles and clench them in tightly.
- Release very quickly without any intervals.
- After a brief pause, go back to the first step.
You can do this exercise 10 times in one sitting. Doing 3 sets per day is ideal for tackling bladder issues. These have been very helpful for preventing sudden urine leakage while sneezing or laughing.
Just like the fast-twitch exercise, these workouts use your slow-twitch muscles, which help in endurance activities such as bicycling. So, these exercises help you control your bladder issues by strengthening organs in the lower region of your body.
As a result, you have better control over urination and prevent frequent urination. The steps include the following:
- Calm your body and sit in a chair. It’s best to keep your bladder empty while doing this.
- Tighten your pelvic muscles as if you are trying not to pass gas.
- Squeeze and hold the position for around 10 seconds.
- Release slowly and go back to step one.
You can do this effective exercise three times a day. Each set must have around 10 contractions to work your slow-twitch muscles.
Some people might face discomfort while sitting and performing these exercises. The standing exercise can be an excellent option in these cases.
For this, stand straight and bring all your focus on the pelvic muscles. Tighten and squeeze the muscles in just like the previous exercises.
While doing this, you may experience some tension in your buttocks and thighs. However, make sure you feel no tension in your stomach region.
Keep the squeezed position for 10 seconds and let it go slowly. It’s recommended that you do these 3 sets every day, including 10 repetitions.
Lying Down Kegel Exercises
As the name suggests, you can do these exercises while lying down. Such exercises for urinary incontinence are also called horizontal Kegel workouts. These are very effective for strengthening your pelvic muscles while offering you that extra comfort.
To do this, you need to lie down on your bed, couch, or the floor and relax. Then, place your arms on your stomach and bend your knees such that your feet are firmly planted on the ground.
Just like other workouts, focus on your pelvic muscles and tighten them. Try to keep your stomach muscles flat under your arms.
After squeezing for 10 seconds, release the muscles and relax. Do 3 sets of these daily, with 10 reps each.
Additional Exercises for Urinary Incontinence
While men and women can both perform the above exercises, these are especially beneficial in helping women3 who suffer from bladder control issues.
This exercise targets the largest muscles in your body, including the pelvic muscles. Just stand straight with your feet a little wider than shoulder-width. Then, push your hips and bend your knees as if you’re about to sit into an invisible chair.
While keeping the thighs parallel to the floor, maintain the weight in your heels. Then, slowly get back up and do this 15 times in a set.
These are ideal for your glutes, and can strengthen your pelvic muscles too. For this, you need to lie down on a floor and keep your arms by your sides. Then, bend your knees and put the soles of your feet on the ground.
Raise your hips from the ground while squeezing your glutes and pelvic floor muscles. Hold that position for 1 or 2 seconds, and lower your hips again.
Repeat this 10 to 15 times, with 30-60 seconds rest in between.
You need to take certain safety measures doing these exercises.
Firstly, don’t perform these exercises while urinating. Also, avoid straining your pelvic muscles too much. Stop immediately if you feel pain or extreme discomfort in your lower organs.
Try following a specific routine for these exercises and maintain the number of reps.
Lastly, don't expect quick results or major improvements in your bladder control within a week. Give your pelvic floor muscles some time to strengthen.
When Can You See Results?
These exercises to reduce urine leakage are generally very effective when done consistently for some time. After you get into a habit of doing them regularly, your pelvic floor muscles will strengthen.
You may start observing results within 3 to 6 weeks. Results will vary, of course, depending upon your condition.
Is Any Equipment Required?
Bladder control exercises do not require any special equipment. However, doctors may suggest women use weighted cones to insert into their vaginas. It will offer additional support while doing the Kegels.
Men and women can also use biofeedback while doing these exercises. Here, a pressure sensor is inserted into the vagina or rectum. When the pelvic muscles get squeezed, these sensors help monitor bodily functions like urine control.
Best Products for Bladder Control
Though bladder control exercises may be helpful in reducing your incontinence, it definitely does take time to get it fully under control. If you want to restore a sense of normalcy right away and ensure dryness throughout your day, here are some absorbent products that can help:
These are high-quality incontinence pads designed for women suffering from light incontinence. The premium design offers light absorbency while remaining perfectly concealed under your clothes.
You can wear them all day without feeling any discomfort or itching. Also, they are very soft to the skin and neatly wrapped, so you can easily carry them anywhere.
They offer excellent concealment, so you can go about your daily activities.
- High-quality clothlike cotton is soft and protects your skin
- The secure fit offers maximum comfort while wearing it
- Has a strong adhesive to prevent it from slipping off
- Highly rated product loved by customers all over the world
These male guards are excellent products to be worn under clothing, especially within underwear. Offering high absorbency and maximum comfort, you can wear these guards all day with no worries.
You can comfortably wear it under your underwear with complete concealment. It’s equipped with an adhesive strip for no slippage and a great fit.
In addition, the high-quality material keeps your skin safe and effectively prevents leakage. They are designed using MaxSoft technology and QUICK WICK to prevent wetness.
- The flexible gathers prevent leakages from the sides
- Odor preventive design keeps unpleasant odors away, keeping your skin fresh
- Ideal for men suffering from dribbling, post-operational leakage, and stress incontinence
- Offers a premium fit with long-lasting performance
This pull-up underwear is designed for men and women suffering from heavy incontinence. Coming with a unique design and offering heavy absorbency, each product can hold almost 34 ounces of fluid.
Their extremely comfortable and skin-friendly material offers your skin some much-needed safety. Powerful odor locking system keeps any odors at bay.
The brand also offers discreet packaging to maintain your privacy.
- Specialized technology helps in maximum absorption and incontinence prevention
- High-performing absorbent material is comfortable and soft to the skin
- Sleek design for comfortable wear and no slippage
- Dermatologically tested to ensure no skin irritations or complications
This is another excellent unisex product for handling a weak bladder. Offering light absorbency and superior comfort, these incontinence pads are perfect for everyday use.
They’re ideal for people facing mild incontinence. Also suitable for pregnant mothers dealing with incontinence.
They are manufactured with a polymer core material and can be comfortably worn inside the underwear daily.
Its excellent design keeps odors and wetness away, ridding your skin of any possible infections. The moisture-proof and odor proof design offers you maximum comfort.
- Neatly wrapped so you can take them anywhere with you
- Soft, anatomically-shaped and breathable material
- Ultra-absorbent material with embossed channels
- Latex-free, tested, and certified for enhancing skin wellness
Can walking be useful for reducing incontinence?
Consider low-impact exercises like biking, swimming, strolling, and yoga if you're concerned about bladder leakage. Two to three hours of moderate activity each week, which may include alternate days of various types of exercise may be of use for you.
What should I cut out of my diet and life to address incontinence?
Cutting down on junk food, caffeine, and cigarettes may help contribute to a healthy lifestyle without incontinence.
Is it true that holding your pee helps to strengthen your bladder?
Holding your urine for an extended period of time may weaken the bladder muscles. This may cause issues, including incontinence and the inability to completely empty your bladder. Holding your pee for extended periods of time may lead to bacterial build-up, which can lead to urinary tract infections.
Is magnesium beneficial for reducing frequent urination?
Magnesium is required for a variety of bodily processes, including normal muscle and neuron function. It may also help with occasional incontinence by decreasing bladder muscle spasms and allowing the bladder to drain completely during urination.
Bladder control exercises can slowly reduce incontinence issues among men and women. With dedication to performing the exercises regularly, you should experience longer intervals between bathroom breaks. You can also note down your improvements to track your progress.
However, you should never overdo these exercises and strain your pelvic muscles. If you ever experience pain while doing these exercises, stop immediately. Consult a physician for more assistance in exercising.
- "What Is Urinary Continence?" Urology Care Foundation
- Kargar Jahromi M, Talebizadeh M, Mirzaei M. The effect of pelvic muscle exercises on urinary incontinency and self-esteem of elderly females with stress urinary incontinency, 2013. Glob J Health Sci. 2014;7(2):71-79. Published 2014 Sep 28. doi:10.5539/gjhs.v7n2p71
- Marques A, Stothers L, Macnab A. The status of pelvic floor muscle training for women. Can Urol Assoc J. 2010;4(6):419-424. doi:10.5489/cuaj.10026
Disclaimer: The information presented here is purely for educational purposes and should not be used in place of the advice of your doctor or physician.