Many women experience incontinence or involuntary loss of urine. There are several types of incontinence and many reasons for having incontinence. Regardless of the specifics, it can be a huge inconvenience and an embarrassing topic to bring up with your healthcare provider (or anyone else for that matter). We at Amber Wellness Group are here to help you find relief and also feel supported with addressing your incontinence concerns.
Incontinence is becoming more common in our society for two reasons: 1-we sit so much! We sit at desks 40 hours/week for 30 years of our lives. We sit on our couches at night and watch TV, to unwind from our overscheduled lives. We sit in cars, in traffic commuting. We sit a lot! And a lot more than our ancestors did. 2- We aren’t connected to our bodies and our muscles the same way we used to be. When we are sedentary, we don’t always recognize the early signals our body is giving us that something is off.
Incontinence is a multi-million dollar industry and is being normalized via television commercials, advertising over the counter medications for overactive bladder, adult diaper type products, and even surgeries to reconstruct the urethra or bladder. Women are told that “it is just the way it goes postpartum”, or that because we are living longer it’s something that we have to “deal” with. This in fact, isn’t true, women do not have to just “deal” with incontinence and now there is a growing movement of healthcare workers who want to change this for women impacted.
Dr. Lisa Dickinson and Dr. Meghan Bennett, provide pelvic floor physical therapy for patients at Amber Wellness Group. Pelvic floor physical therapy helps to balance the muscles of the pelvic floor, allowing you to release the trigger points that will allow you to close off the urethra when urinary urgency occurs. There are two types of therapy patients can choose from and many patients choose both. One incorporates range of motion, and active trigger point release work. The other therapy is called Holistic Pelvic Care ™ which is an energetic myofascial release of muscle tension. Tami Kent is a physical therapist who developed HPC ™ combining her experience of physical therapy and incorporating energetic tools to help realign the muscles of the pelvic floor. Pelvic floor PT can help a variety of issues, not just incontinence. Look for our upcoming HPC article for much more information.
In addition to using specific pelvic floor release therapy, there are many natural ways you can support your body and improve your symptoms.
Movement: Exercise is key to any healthy lifestyle, but we often don’t pay particular attention to exercising or engaging the muscles of the pelvic floor. We’ve all heard of Kegels but there is a specific way of doing this exercise that can help strengthen a weak pelvic floor. Another thing we can do that our ancestors did plenty of, is squatting. If your knees allow it, start with getting into a squatting position for 2 minutes once a day. If you have any issues with balance or arthritis in your knees, you can use a yoga block to sit on that will still allow you to engage the pelvic floor muscles in a squat. If you watch young children, they innately squat all the time, during play, during bowel movements, etc. And they stay in that position for long periods of time. Speaking of bowel movements, you can assist not only your pelvic floor muscles but also the passing of stools if you assume a squat position on or above the toilet. You can even buy a “squatty potty” to bring your legs up to a squat position while going to the bathroom. If you work at a desk a majority of the time, take breaks to go squat and stretch. These things will all improve blood flow to your pelvis and pelvic floor muscles.
Hydrotherapy: One easy thing you can do, is alternating hot and cold water to the pelvis. You can do this by directing the shower head towards your pelvis at the end of a shower and doing 1-3 minutes warm water, followed by 30 seconds of a cool (or cold if you’re feeling bold) burst, repeating 3 times and always ending on cold. This causes the circulatory system to relax and constrict and basically pump blood to the area. Another option if standing in a shower is difficult for you, is to do alternating hot & cold sitz baths. You just need a tub and a bucket or two buckets. Buckets need to be big enough for you to submerge your pelvis in the water. Fill one bucket or the tub with cool water and one with warm water. Follow the above guidelines for alternating time frames and repetitions. Water temperatures should be to tolerance, extreme temperatures are not effective.
Dietary changes: Incontinence can be perpetuated by chronic inflammation from the foods that irritate the lining of your bladder. Doing a trial of an anti-inflammatory foods goes a long way in reducing incontinence symptoms. The basics of an anti-inflammatory diet are avoiding processed foods, eggs, dairy, gluten, caffeine and processed sugars. If you’d like a more individualized program, or if you are not getting the relief from avoiding the above foods, the providers at Amber Wellness Group can order a specific food sensitivity test for you.
The first step is understanding and then from there you can look at incorporating a few of the above ideas, discuss with your provider or give us a call and we would be happy to support you in your quest to “Stop The Leak”!