Taking time to work out the muscles that control your urinary tract is often a first step in treating stress incontinence. McLeod Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist Taylor Holmes specializes in helping women taking control of their lives. This is what she told a gathering of more than 100 women during McLeod Women’s Health “Straight Talk”:
Here are key points from Taylor’s response:
Physical therapy can be a great treatment for urinary incontinence. The pelvic muscles support the pelvic floor. If they’re not working properly, it can trigger incontinence.
If you came to me for a physical therapy evaluation, I would test the pelvic muscles the same way that I would test your arms muscles (biceps) or your thigh muscles (quadriceps) – or any other muscle that you want to strengthen.
I would see how well you can lift with that muscle and how much you can give support to your pelvic floor. Then, I would work to strengthen your muscles.
I’ve been specializing in Pelvic Health for about one-and-a-half years. While it doesn’t help some people, I’ve seen a good bit of success with women, even one who had been leaking for 20 years. At the end of 12 weeks, they were not leaking any more. Now, you have to keep up the exercises. Like any muscle, if you don’t use it, the muscle will get weak.
I think a lot of people have heard of Kegel exercises, where you squeeze your pelvic floor muscle like you are trying to hold in your urine or stop a stream of urine.
A lot of women come to see me because they’ve tried to do the Kegels, but the exercises don’t seem to work. They might not be doing the exercises correctly or even pushing the wrong way. As a physical therapist trained in pelvic health, I can see if you are doing the exercises correctly. If not, I can show you how.
About half the women I see will take my cues and then they can do it correctly. Some women will have difficulty contracting those muscles. The length of time a woman can hold those muscles varies greatly. Some can only hold it for 2 seconds. Some, for 15 seconds. So we start simply and work from there.
It’s good to try it by yourself at first. But if that’s no working, you may want to see a physical therapist. The treatment is outpatient. The length of time depends on the severity of the issue. Some women see me once or twice a week for about 8-12 weeks.
Here’s one way to determine if you’re doing the Kegel exercises correctly. As you are sitting down to void, try to stop the flow of urine without contracting your abdominal muscles. If you can do that, you are contracting the correct muscles.
With a referral from your personal physician, you can contact a pelvic physical therapist by calling McLeod Outpatient Rehabilitation at (843) 777-3199 to schedule your evaluation and treatment.
You may also find these articles helpful: