5 Ways to take Care of Your Pelvic Floor (That Have Nothing To Do With Kegels)
In the summer of ’99, my mom packed us two kids in the back of our forest green Chrysler minivan, shortly after hollering, “make sure you use the bathroom before we leave!” up the stairs of our split-level red brick home. 30 minutes into our drive to visit my NaNa, my sister (who was 5 at the time) began wiggling side to side in her seat, arms and legs crossed over her crotch. “I have to peeeeee” she groaned.
This was the norm that summer. My sister peed on the side of the road or in the woods more often than she peed on a toilet (okay, that may be a stretch, but you get the picture). After a summer FULL of this my mom finally figured out that citrus drinks were the culprit, but now that I’m a Pelvic Floor PT, I know there were so many other factors. There are so many things that cause pee problems and so many things to do to help a momma or a kiddo out!...
1. No JIC’ing
a.k.a. No peeing Just In Case. Just before you head out the door you stop to pee, so you won’t have to when you get there. Then, when you get to work, you pee before your shift starts. You’re out to dinner at the Cheesecake Factory and you pee right when you get there so you don’t have to when dinner comes… Making JIC’ing a habit confuses your bladder and trains it to need to empty before it’s full. If you pee before you get the urge to go or right when you get the urge, your brain starts to think that you NEED to pee when your bladder is ½ full (or even less). Over time, your bladder will hold less and less and you’ll “have” to pee constantly.
2. Pee every 3-4 hours
The reverse isn’t great for you either. Holding your pee for too long can cause UTI’s and bladder pain. This is the reason most people site for going more frequenty, but they go too frequently because they don’t know how long too long really is and they’re scared of getting a UTI. FYI, your bladder can hold 1 and a half to 2 cups of urine. Peeing for at least 8 seconds (count your Mississippi’s!) means you had a full bladder and actually had to pee. If you’re a frequent pee-er, start by trying to hold it past the first “I need to pee” signal.
3. Breathe! (and breathe deeply)
When you breathe in fully, your diaphragm expands and sinks toward your belly button and your pelvic floor muscles stretch. When you breathe out, your diaphragm relaxes, returning to its normal position beneath your ribs and your pelvic floor contracts. Simply breathing deeply when you are lying down, walking, or exercising can encourage your pelvic floor muscles to work properly.
4. Sit on the toilet!
Don’t hover! In a squatted position, your pelvic floor muscles are turned on and emptying your bladder while your muscles are “on” can confuse the bladder and strain your pelvic floor muscles. Sitting down on the toilet will let your pelvic floor relax and let your pee out naturally and strain-free!
5. Avoid constipation!
If you are constipated, it takes up space in your belly and puts pressure on your pelvic floor. If you’re constipated, you might strain when pooping which then puts even more pressure down there. To keep yourself on the regs, eat plenty of fiber (at least 25 grams per day for women), drink 64 ounces of water a day, and move! Walk, run, dance…movement helps get things a movin’.
Bad bladder and bowel habits are passed down by our grandmothers and mommas and can be hard wired in us. Habits like these can be hard to break when you've been doing them for 20, 30, or even 40 years. Over time, habits like these can weaken your pelvic floor and core and cause incontinence, pain, and even prolapse. If you find it hard put these into practice your muscles may need a tune up or you may need some coaching to turn these bad habits into good ones.