Are you a battling an overactive bladder postpartum? Getting tired of constantly SPRINTING to the bathroom when you pull in the driveway? Learn how pelvic floor therapy can help AND use our pelvic floor exercises for overactive bladder.
What is an Overactive Bladder?
Are you a person that is running to the bathroom the second you have to pee?Maybe life has gotten particularly difficult postpartum because the second you pull in the driveway, you have to pee. Except for now you have two kids in the car that you have to get unloaded first and you just can’t hold it so end up fully emptying your bladder standing in the driveway? You may have an overactive bladder...
The term 'overactive bladder' refers to urinary urgency and/or urinary frequency. Urinary urgency refers to the quick urge to run to the bathroom. Urinary frequency is the need to go often. It's really common for them to co-exist.
These symptoms can happen for anyone and at any point in life. But often it pops up postpartum due to the imbalances that happen in the pelvis and pelvic floor. Fortunately, these issues can often be solved, which can often greatly impact your quality of life.
Not sounding right? If you are experiencing urinary leakage with exercise, jumping, coughing, laughing,etc. you are experiencing stress incontinence.
Pelvic Floor Therapy for Overactive Bladder
Like most conditions associated with pelvic floor dysfunction, an overactive bladder stems from pelvic floor tension OR pelvic floor weakness. Tension in pelvic floor muscles will push up against the bladder and make it uncomfortable to have a full bladder. On the flip side, pelvic floor weakness can be the culprit and those muscle just literally aren’t strong enough to hold in the pee. So we have to figure out what we are dealing with in order to figure out the right place to start with addressing symptoms.
A pelvic floor physical therapist will be the best resource to figure out if you are a tight or a weak person. Your pelvic floor PT can directly assess your pelvic floor function with an internal vaginal assessment.
However, there are some trends when it comes to pelvic floor tightness and pelvic floor weakness. Women with tight pelvic floors to also tend to have a higher stress/anxiety personalities. They tend to be more Type A and are typically strong/active women, like runners or people that like to do lots of fitness classes. If you are someone who holds tension in other places like your jaw, shoulders, or abdomen, you are likely also holding tension in your pelvic floor too!
Weakness in the pelvic floor might be present in less active people or people with decreased core and hip strength. These are just trends; this isn’t always true. You will figure out the BEST approach when it comes to pelvic floor exercises if you are assessed by a pelvic floor physical therapist. Here is what you can expect with your first pelvic floor physical therapy visit at Pelvic Floor for Moms.
Pelvic Floor Exercises for Overactive Bladder
We always address mobility before stability. Here are pelvic floor exercises for an overactive bladder that focus on mobility and stretching.
Once we have created mobility, then we have stabilize. This can start with pelvic floor core and pelvic floor strengthening. Try the pelvic floor strength exercises linked below.
You also want to strengthen around the pelvic floor for overactive bladder symptoms. Expand your strengthening routine to the muscles that surround and attach to the pelvis. Like glute max, glute med, transverse abdominus, and even postural muscles like scapular stabilizers.
Delay the Urge with Urinary Urgency
Try these ‘urge delay techniques’. These techniques help reduce the feeling of urgency to either allow you to calmly walk to the bathroom or to start to space out the time between bathroom trips.
- Quick Flicks : [5-10 reps] quick contractions and relaxation of your pelvic floor
- Deep Breaths: [5-10 breaths]
- Heel Raises [10-20 reps]
- Distraction : move to a different task, room, etc. Can be helpful if you are a person that needs to start spacing out the time between bathroom trips (using the bathroom every 2-4 hours is “normal”).
- ‘Calm’ Mentality : CALMLY walk to the bathroom (don’t rush) and CALMLY use the bathroom. Keeping your nervous system calm can help rewire the way your brain talks to your bladder in these scenarios
Lifestyle Considerations for Overactive Bladder:
Avoid Bladder Irritants:
When these foods are consumed, they make your bladder contract more than they might normally. This makes it difficult for your bladder to fill, making it feel like you want to go to the bathroom more. The most common bladder irritants are: coffee, alcohol, carbonated beverages, and artificial sweeteners. You don't necessarily have to cut these all out. First see if you can notice any correlation between bladder irritants & your symptoms. Then, you can adjust your habits and don’t fret! You may be able to reincorporate these foods//beverages if you improve any pelvic floor dysfunction!
PRO TIP : avoid coffee & alcohol on an empty stomach! It's best to start with water and food.
Avoid ‘JUST IN CASE’ Pee’s
Another lifestyle factor to look at is avoiding “just in case” pees. If you are someone who has to use the bathroom all the time, it can be tempting to pee 'just in case' whenever you have the opportunity. It's easy to become fearful that you won’t be able to find a bathroom when you need one.
When you do this, you start to mess with the feedback loop between your bladder and brain. Your bladder ultimately learns that it doesn’t need to fill all the way. So to start to counteract this, try to just listen to your body’s signals. If you have to pee, go but try not to go at times outside of that.
The moral of the story? There is hope for these annoying or even distressing problems. We are here to help! Reach out for help and get assessed by a pelvic floor physical therapist if needed!