I frequently hear from patients that they have urine leakage when they sit up, stand up, get out of the car, or lifting heavy objects including their children. Many times this occurs because the person is holding their breath. When you hold your breath, your diaphragm contracts and is being held in its lowered position which increases the amount of pressure in your abdomen. That pressure is then transferred to your pelvic floor and the organs that it supports. Now add the pressure of increasing muscle contractions in the abdomen and pelvic floor during movement. That is a lot of pressure for your organs, especially your bladder, to withstand without the proper functional support of the muscles in your pelvic floor.
There is an easy way to help this issue. Just exhale instead of holding your breath. This may not work for everyone as it depends on other factors, but it is worth the effort. Any time that you hold your breath increases the chance of urine leakage. Now you just need to be conscious of when you hold your breath and exhale during that time instead. This includes activities of daily living (ADL’s). People tend to hold their breath when they put their socks on, tie their shoes, put their leg through the pants, lifting their laundry or groceries, clipping their toe nails and many more activities.
I frequently tell people that the only time you should ever hold your breath is if you’re under water (I’m sure there are a few other circumstances that would warrant it, but the under water part is easy to remember). Awareness is half the battle so now that you are aware, I hope you see some success with exhaling while making positional changes or during ADL’s. When in doubt, just breathe.
~Sharon Fritts, COTA~