Bloom Yoga Victoria
Mind Over Bladder - How to be the Boss of your Bladder!
Thursday March 19, 2015 04:47 PM
Do you feel like your bladder is the boss of you? What if I told you it could be the other way around - that you could be the boss of your bladder - all it takes is some knowledge, breaking bad habits, learning about bladder stimulants and some work!

To learn how to gain control over your bladder and the muscles that support it you need a little more knowledge. Your bladder is a muscle that can expand and hold up to two cups of urine. Your pelvic floor muscles are at the base of the pelvis. These muscles help to control the bladder and bowel (continence), assist with sexual function and support and prop-up pelvic organs. Both men and women can have issues with incontinence but the rates are often higher in women and all incidents of incontinence can increase with age. Being the boss of your bladder can help prevent and control incontinence and help prevent and improve prolapses (falling of the bladder, uterus or rectum).

Your bladder likes to be bossy and tell you when to go to the washroom and how often. If you let your bladder boss you around all the time you fall into bad habits. Remember you want to be in charge, not your bladder. One of these bad habits is urinating before your bladder has filled to capacity (you can hold up to two cups!) Going to the washroom before your bladder is full - or going to the washroom just-in-case - lets your bladder start to signal you to go rather than your brain. This can lead to urinating more frequently and could put extra strain on your pelvic floor muscles. Speaking of frequency you should be able to hold your urine and only have to use the washroom every three to four hours even when you get the proper amount of fluids in during the day. Another bad habit is pushing to empty the bladder, the bladder is a muscle and can empty on its own. Pushing puts pressure on the pelvic floor muscles and you want to avoid that both in urinating and having a bowel movement. Also you can't empty every drop out, it's normal to have a little residual urine in the bladder.

Have you ever noticed that after you drink a coffee or a beer you have a strong urge to use the washroom, and fast? This is because caffeine and alcohol are universal bladder stimulants, they get all of us! If you're having any issues with incontinence, frequency or urgency I recommend you cut these out and see if that makes a difference.

Remember those pelvic floor muscles I mentioned before? Part of their job is to give support to the internal organs and prop them up. They also engage to help quiet the bladder when you need to go. It's really important to learn how to engage these muscles to strengthen them. The muscles are at the base of the pelvis in a diamond shape, they run from the pubic bone back to the tailbone and span out to the ischial tuberosities (or sitz bones). One way to engage the pelvic floor is to feel like you are stopping the flow of urine, or trying not to pass gas. It feels like you are drawing them up and in to the body. Try not to squeeze your backside or tense up your face and shoulders, the contraction is meant to be internal only. This is a pelvic floor contraction or a kegal exercise. These muscles can be tricky to engage so be patient, it takes some practice.

You know more about your bladder, how it works, what some bad habits are and what some stimulants are - now what?! You need to learn how to calm the bladder down when it is sending you strong urges that you need to go. For example, you know that if you just went 30 minutes ago that the bladder can't be full enough to go again. Sitting down can calm the bladder, so can distracting yourself by reading or phoning a friend and also doing a strong pelvic floor contraction. Ideally you find the urge has passed and you can hold a little longer. When you do decide to use the washroom move slowly and calmly to show your bladder that YOU are in charge, not your bladder!

Like training a puppy training your bladder takes patience, kindness and work! If you don't notice an improvement in your habits within four to six weeks you may want to come to a bladder workshop that I teach with Jodi Ganton who is a physiotherapist. The workshop is called Stop Your Bladder From Running Your Life and we teach all around greater Victoria and expand on the information given here and much more. If you are not in Victoria talk to your doctor or gynecologist about it, incontinence is a serious medical problem that deserves the same attention and respect as any other condition. You may also consider going to see a physiotherapist like Jodi who specializes in pelvic floor dysfunction to get more personalized treatment.

And good luck, it's your turn to be the boss!
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