Did you know that PTs can be trained in evaluating and treating the Pelvic Floor? One of the top conditions seen in Pelvic Floor PT is bladder dysfunction, and this can present in a number of ways, whether it be partial or full incontinence, leaking, urine retention, urinary frequency, pain with urination, or a combination of these. Did you know that there is a lot you can do to improve your bladder health, and reduce your symptoms? Chances are you didn’t know, because no one seems to educate patients on this! Some are even just told or suggested to stock up on pads or adult diapers, or “it’s just your age,” or “you had a baby, that’s what happens.” But what if you DON’T have to live like this? It’s VERY possible!
Here are some of the top tips and education us Pelvic Floor PTs give to our patients to help them start their journey to a healthy, functioning bladder and pelvic floor. Give them a try and let us know how you do!
Stop “JIC-ing!” JIC stands for “just in case” peeing. JIC-ing means that you’re running out the door, you have a 5-minute break at work, or you’re leaving work to head home, so you pee “just in case.” You have the time and opportunity to go, so you go. But this isn’t good for your bladder! It trains your bladder over time to rely on frequent restroom breaks and weakens the muscles of the pelvic floor. Before you know it, you feel the urge to go more frequently, and find that you’re not able to hold it in for as long. So, try to wait 2-4 hours in between trips to the bathroom, and resist the temptation to go “just in case.”
Hold your urine until you have a moderate urge to go. The first time we get the urge to go is when our bladder is only half-full. Many of us get used to going at that first urge, but similar to the logic above, your body then adapts to going when its only half-full and your muscles weaken over time. Before you know it, you have a hard time holding it at all. How do you know if you’re holding it long enough? If you go and can count at least 8 seconds/”8 Mississippi’s” of urine stream, you likely waited long enough. If you’re going for 1-7 seconds, you didn’t hold it long enough, or your muscles have weakened.
Conversely, don’t make it a habit of holding your urine for a long time. Getting busy at home, getting tied up at work, or being out in the community and not wanting to use a public restroom are examples of times people end up holding their urine too long. In this case, your bladder and muscles can be overstretched if you do this chronically, then causing weakness and bladder dysfunction. Again, try to go every 2-4 hours, not less and not more.
Don’t push or force your urine out. Once you sit to pee, there is an internal reflex loop that occurs to allow urination to happen naturally without force. By forcing it or rushing it, you can create dysfunction in your pelvic floor. So just relax, breathe, and let that urine flow naturally!
Don't hover! Many people squat over the toilet in public restrooms, but instead, line the seat with toilet paper if you must. It is hard for our pelvic floor muscles to relax and allow natural elimination of urine when our core and hip muscles are tightening up to keep us in the squat position. This is okay once in a while, but don't make a habit of it, especially if you tend to do this more than once every other day.
Don’t rely on pads or adult diapers without going to see a Pelvic Floor PT! Unfortunately, a lot of medical providers aren’t well versed in the ways our bodies can strengthen and rebound with the right guidance and exercises, so they chock it up to aging, childbirth, medical status, or just “it happens sometimes” and don’t have much help to offer. Just because you rely on pads or medications now doesn’t mean you always have to! Bladder dysfunction is common, but it’s NOT normal!
When I first learned about these bladder retraining tips and tricks, I had NO idea! I was definitely JICing, holding, pushing, etc. So if a Doctorate-trained PT was doing everything wrong, I can bet that at least 90% of the population is guilty of at least one of the bad habits listed above. What are you guilty of? Try making some changes today, and be patient with your body. It can take a few weeks to start to see a difference. And if you’re still not where you want to be after a few weeks, give us a call! We offer free phone and in-person consultations here https://www.thegrpt.com/events-and-offers
In good health,
Dr. Ashley Bertorelli, PT and Founder of The Green Room Physical Therapy