An overactive bladder (OAB) happens when someone has the constant urge to urinate. Most experts gauge OAB as a minimum of going 8 times per day. When the bladder is filled, the brain sends signals to the pelvic and bladder muscles to empty the urine. With OAB, there are conflicting signals, creating an uncontrollable need to urinate. Some even wake up at night to go to the bathroom. Overactive bladders can be stressful since the urge is unpredictable. Getting the right treatment is key, as the condition is indeed treatable.
Need to fix that leak?
People with OAB sometimes have urinary incontinence. Urine leaks out involuntarily, especially when someone gets the urge to urinate. There are several types of urinary incontinence, with many cases happening when someone coughs, laughs, or sneezes. OAB and urinary incontinence often go hand in hand but can be mutually exclusive. However, doctors often link both cases to a weakened pelvic floor. These 4 exercises may help improve bladder control.
1. All about Kegels
Pelvic floor strengthening exercises, commonly known as Kegels, are the best way to improve an overactive bladder. Find the pelvic muscles by stopping urine mid-stream during the next bathroom break. With a clear bladder, lay on the floor, hold the squeeze for 3 seconds, and then release. Do this exercise twice daily for 10 repetitions. Over time, increase the length of the hold. Note that Kegels will take some time to see an improvement. Also, the muscle can be hard to pinpoint. Make sure to avoid squeezing the core, thigh, or buttock muscles.
2. Glute bridges
Kegels are very effective but work well for beginners with exercises on the floor. The glute bridge targets the pelvic floor muscles and other muscles that wrap around the lower core. To perform a glute bridge for Kegels, lay flat on the floor with the knees bent and hands flat on the floor. Drive the shoulders into the floor and raise the buttocks off the floor as high as possible. Hold the position for 30 seconds while performing Kegels and keeping the core relaxed.
3. Try some lunges
Lunges can strengthen the glutes, core, calf, hamstrings, and pelvic floor muscles. To perform a lunge, stand up straight with the legs slightly apart. Reach the left forward as far as possible while bending the right knee. Drop the right knee slowly to the floor, which will cause the left knee to bend. Hold the lunge until there is a slight pull in the glutes and calf. Make sure the left knee does not go past the ankle. Come back to the starting position, then lunge forward with the right leg. Alternate for 10 repetitions, performing 3 sets, twice weekly.
4. Side single leg lifts
Start by laying on the floor on one side with the legs straight and stacked on each other. Raise the top leg slowly to the ceiling, creating a V shape with the legs, then bring the leg back to the start. Perform the exercise for 10 reps, then switch sides.
The dangers of OAB
While an overactive bladder is not life-threatening, the condition is usually a signal that there is an underlying condition. In many cases, weak pelvic floor muscles are the culprit, and these exercises can help. However, some people have nerve damage due to a herniated disc or other physical condition. Other reasons include obesity, menopause, celiac disease, medication side effects, or a UTI. Treating the underlying cause as well as exercising can stop the leak.
There is hope
An overactive bladder can feel stressful and embarrassing. Most people choose to suffer in silence and plan activities around the symptoms. An overactive bladder is nothing to be ashamed of. Make sure to see a doctor or urologist while consistently performing the exercises. A range of medical techniques can help. Getting OAB and urinary incontinence under control can bring an amazing, positive outlook on life. Don’t miss out. For more information, speak with a healthcare provider.