Urinary leakage is not normal. It is a sign that your body is giving you to tell you something is wrong. Being able to coordinate muscle strength (work) with muscle length (rest) is a key component to continence. This coordination feels almost impossible to most people suffering from incontinence. However, the reason behind the symptoms significantly varies from one person to another.
Very often incontinence is related to the pelvic muscles being too tight or “overactive” and therefore weak. Incontinence is not always simply about weakness only. Other factors such as abdominal or pelvic surgeries, back pain, postural mal-alignment, difficulty with walking, or chronic constipation can also contribute to urinary leakage. Stress and dietary factors will also need to be considered. So just beginning an exercise program when a problem already exists might exacerbate the condition if not individually prepared for you based on your bodies’ specific needs and abilities at that time.
Knowledge is power. A balanced approach to pelvic floor therapy includes education regarding normal bathroom behaviors, such as daily fluid intake, how often to void (aka peeing), and what a normal urge should entail. Filling out daily void logs can give a lot of valuable information that can allow you to gain control of bowel and bladder habits. Learning about the anatomy and physiology behind normal continence is equally important. In the case of muscle/tissue tension manual techniques, such as connective tissue manipulation, is imperative prior to muscle re-training or strengthening. The use of biofeedback, postural alignment, and body mechanics can provide invaluable information about how to perform functional tasks, such as sitting, standing, lifting and bending while controlling urinary leakage. Finally, consistently performing a balanced pelvic floor and core muscle strengthening and stretching program, when deemed appropriate by a licensed practitioner, will allow a patient to maintain the quality of life we all deserve.
I am a firm believer in the power of an empowered consumer, or patient. So if you are having issues and think pelvic floor therapy is right for you, talk with your physician. Pelvic floor therapy is covered by most insurances when performed by an Occupational or Physical therapist with a prescription from their physician. Seek a licensed professional who specializes in muscles of the pelvic floor assess the problem. This way you can be assured that when you do begin to perform pelvic floor muscle exercises you know that you are doing them correctly.