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The Latest News on Bellies and Bottoms

Urinary incontinence occurs in 38% of people and 61% of people with low back pain.   This is a topic that is rarely discussed in public and one that for many involves embarrassment.  As a result, there are many misconceptions about urinary incontinence.  It doesn’t only effect pregnant and old women.  Studies show that young, fit women, those who do sports involving impact such as volleyball, basketball or gymnastics may have stress incontinence too.  This occurs when there is leakage upon “stress” such as jumping, running, coughing or sneezing.  I’m sure we’ve all heard women say, “Don’t make me laugh that hard or I’ll pee my pants.”  This just shouldn’t happen, it’s not “normal” and often there is an easy treatment for it.

Urge incontinence is the other type of incontinence.  The urge is associated with a strong desire to urinate with the inability to make it to the bathroom in time.  Some people have urge and stress incontinence which is called mixed incontinence.  Lastly, men also can have incontinence of bowel or bladder

The good news is that the treatment is often fairly easy.  It involves two steps: 1.  strengthening the muscles of the pelvic floor and 2. looking at your bladder habits and modifying them.  For instance, the bladder should hold 1-2cups of fluid, but we get our first signal to go when it’s half full, BUT, we’re supposed to WAIT until it’s full, not go at the first signal.  The bladder is meant to store, not to be emptied too soon, so going too frequently trains the bladder to be overactive and decreases its ability to store the way it was designed to.  Another bad habit is the “just in case” people.  My mom was a big one for this.  When we’re about to get in the car she would say, “you’d better go, just in case” like there would be no toilets available for the next day.  Also, there are irritants to the bladder such as caffeine which can increase your urge or stress symptoms.  Did you know we should only be going 5-7x/day, and only 0-1 at night for those under 65 years of age??  And, we should be able to wait 2-5 hours in between our trips to the bathroom.

Many of us have developed bad habits over the years, and now just think, we can do Potty Training all over again!!   The evaluation involves a long history as we need to know about pregnancy and birth history, surgeries and health conditions such as respiratory problems as coughing can weaken the pelvic floor and affect the bladder.  After the evaluation, patients are instructed how to strengthen the pelvic floor and need only to be seen weekly.  The pelvic floor is like any other muscle in the body, if you don’t use it, you loose it, and that will have a huge impact on your ability to stay dry.

SO how are bellies and bottoms related??  Studies show that the Transverse Abdominus,   a deep layer of muscle that supports your low back like a corset, contracts at the same time as the pelvic floor muscles.

For further information on urinary incontinence as well as pelvic organ prolapse, please join Mary on Wednesday July 15 at 6 PM for a free lecture at Luther Park, 510 Olive St. Mary is in her 22nd year of practice and is the owner of Mountain View Physical Therapy located in the Stepping Stones Wellness Center at 803 West Pine St.  She can be reached for further questions at 290-5575.

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