‘SUI is caused by a weakness in the pelvic floor, which prevents the urethra from closing fully when sudden pressure is put on your bladder,’ explains Mr Steve Foley, consultant urologist at the Royal pressure on the pelvic floor and, in turn, the likelihood of incontinence. Heavy lifting and weights can also worsen the problem because holding your breath puts your pelvic floor under more strain.’ Avoiding exercise, however, is certainly not the answer. In tact, it could make the problem worse, partly because symptoms are exacerbated by weight gain. ‘It’s also important to be aware that exercise doesn’t actually cause SUI, but it can reveal it,’ adds Foley. Here’s how to stop suffering in silence and keep on moving…
Is Your Pelvic Floor Sabotaging Your Workouts? Here’s How to Take Control and Exercise With Confidence Photo Gallery
WORK ‘DOWN THERE’
Pelvic floor exercises are essential, of course. Ideally, you should aim tor a five-minute workout, squeezing and holding the muscles for a few seconds on each repetition, three times daily. The problem? ‘We often struggle to locate devices such as the Elvie Trainer (£169; elvie.com; also available on the NHS) Berkshire NHS Trust. ‘Urine can leak the right area because of tension in the – an egg-shaped tracker device inserted out during everyday activities, such as surrounding muscles,’ says Innovo’s pelvic into the vagina that connects with an laughing, sneezing and – in particular – certain types of high-impact exercise. ‘Road running and sports that involve floor expert Jane Wake. ‘Breathe deeply and try to relax. Sit up straight on the edge of a chair, and shift your glutes out from app – monitor your exercises and offer personalised tips. Innovo Smart Shorts (£249; restorethefloor.com) does all the jumping and landing, such as volleyball, gymnastics and trampolining, increase the underneath you. This stops you from using the muscles in your bottom. Visualise the pelvic floor, which runs from your tail bone to your pubic bone. Think of stopping wind, then stopping water, and imagine drawing those two feelings together and up inside you.’
GIVE A GADGET A GO
You could also invest in some technology to aid your pelvic workout. Biofeedback work tor you by stimulating the pelvic floor via a set of conductive gel pads.
EXERCISE THE REST OF YOUR CORE TOO
It’s not all about the pelvic floor, however: anything that strengthens the full core, such as resistance training, yoga or Pilates, is also key. ‘The pelvic floor muscles don’t exist in isolation,’ says personal trainer Jenny Burrell, founder of the Holistic Core every 10 to 20 minutes when exercising is normally sufficient.’ However, it’s wise to avoid sugary sports drinks and caffeine as these can make the problem worse. Another tip? Acidic fruits and juices can aggravate symptoms for some people.
GET SOME NEW PANTS
Yes, there is a much more appealing alternative to incontinence pads: smart pants with built-in leak protection. Depend Active-Fit Underwear (£6.75 for eight; depend.co.uk) features odour-elimination technology and discreet protection that’s designed to move with your body; İD Pants Active (£12.12 for 14; id-direct.com) also offer odour control and fast absorption. Or for a non-disposable option, try Pretty Clever Pants (£16.99 for two; prettycleverpants.com), protective cotton knickers with a concealed waterproof layer.
CONSIDER A ‘FILLER’
You may well balk at the thought of a urethral bulking agent – but this non-surgical treatment has a high success rate in serious cases Restore programme (holisticcorerestore.com). ‘They’re linked to movement throughout your whole body so need to be trained and re-trained with these principles mind.’ A keen runner, Burrell suffered severe SUI when she resumed training following a hysterectomy at the age of 41, and found pelvic-floor exercises alone weren’t enough to prepare her for a life of movement again. But by building up gradually and focusing on strengthening her entire core, she was able to cure her SUI within two months. It’s tempting to drink less water to avoid the need to pee while you exercise, but that’s never a good idea. ‘Dehydration concentrates the urine, irritating the.
Restore programme (holisticcorerestore.com). ‘They’re linked to movement throughout your whole body so need to be trained and re-trained with these principles in mind.’ A keen runner, Burrell suffered severe SUI when she resumed training following a hysterectomy at the age of 41, and found pelvic-floor exercises alone weren’t enough to prepare her for a life of movement again. But by building up gradually and focusing on strengthening her entire core, she was able to cure her SUI within two months. sensitive bladder lining,’ explains Mr Foley. ‘If you’re not fully hydrated, your body can’t perform at its highest level. But drinking where physiotherapy and pelvic floor exercises haven’t made enough of a difference. ‘The aim is to restore the natural closing pressure of the urethra by adding volume to the surrounding tissue,’ explains Foley. Bulkamid, a water-based gel, is now available on the NHS or costs £1,600 in a private clinic; find out more at bulkamid.com.
SPEAK TO A DOCTOR
Sadly, around nine-in-10 women with SUI simply ‘put up’ with the condition, rather than seeking treatment and advice, according to a recent survey for Bulkamid. But if self-help strategies aren’t making enough of a difference, your GP can refer you to a urologist or women’s-health physiotherapist. So stop suffering in silence and you’ll be up and running – and jumping – with confidence before you know it.
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