Incontinence is a common problem with a huge global burden. It’s twice as common in women than in men and has a higher prevalence with advanced age. Unfortunately, incontinence presents unique hurdles in daily life that interrupt normal routines. As a result, many people struggle to go about their daily business.
Incontinence puts limitations on physical activities since excessive exertion can make it worse. Therefore, special recommendations for sport and exercise are part and parcel of normal routines. Here are tips on how to work out while living with incontinence.
Stick to low-impact aerobic workouts
Aerobic exercises pose a threat to the integrity of pelvic floor muscles. As a result, they can make incontinence worse. In particular, high-impact aerobic exercises like jumping, running and skipping increase the pressure on the pelvic floor and weaken the muscles. Moreover, the sudden change in direction experienced in high-impact exercises compromises the pelvic floor. Therefore, what are the best sports and exercises for anyone living with incontinence?
Fortunately, low-impact aerobic exercises have all the benefits without the drawbacks. The workouts maintain the integrity of the pelvic floor by minimising pressure transmission into the muscles. Some of the low-impact aerobic exercises include walking, swimming, cycling and water aerobics.
Modify your workouts
Since incontinence is a consequence of a compromised pelvic floor, all workouts must be adjusted to maintain the integrity of the muscles. Therefore, people living with incontinence cannot follow the standard approaches in training; small tweaks are necessary.
As a rule of thumb, all attempts to push the pelvic floor muscles beyond the limits should be avoided. This information should also be passed on to your trainer. Some of the modifications you can make to reduce exertion on the muscles during training include:
- Reducing the depth of your squats and lunges
- Keep your legs close together during training to reduce the engagement of the pelvic muscles
- Reduce weight training and target more repetitions
- Maintain a comfortable and correct posture during your workouts
- Use more seated exercises in your routine, especially when using the machines
- Go easy on core training.
- Exhale on exertion and avoid holding your breath during workouts
Exercise your pelvic floor
There are different exercises for each muscle group in the body. Similarly, the pelvic floor muscles have special exercises that improve strength. The most popular routine is the Kegels exercise. The routine involves tightening muscles that control the flow of urine. It’s done by holding and releasing tension in a repetitive sequence over ten cycles. Unlike most physical workouts, Kegels can be done anywhere at any time. The reverse Kegel also targets the pelvic floor muscles. It involves lengthening and relaxing the muscles as opposed to adding tension. Studies show a combination of the two routines yields better results.
The benefits of pelvic floor exercises include improved bladder and bowel control, lower risk of rectal, vaginal and urethral prolapse, and improved recovery after pelvic surgeries.
Carry the appropriate incontinence management products
Having the right products with you while exercising is important if you need to change and clean up. Furthermore, your may need to change more frequently during exercise due to higher hydration and exertion on the pelvic floor.
A standard changing kit has extra pads, cleansing products, incontinence wipes and gloves. It’s also prudent to carry disposable bags to put everything away after use.
Having all your products ready for any eventuality makes it easier to work out. You can get out on the training field confident that you are prepared to handle any leak.
Living with incontinence sounds difficult; however, it’s quite easy if you follow the right recommendations. Contact your doctor for the best advice.