This year has seen record cases of winter bugs and flu, but there’s also another condition that can arise from the cold that hits women hardest – but is rarely discussed.
One in three women suffer some degree of incontinence, and Urinary Stress Incontinence (USI) and Urge Incontinence are two of the most common types, with the conditions exacerbated in cold weather.
Urinary Stress Incontinence (USI) is the involuntary loss of urine when your core is under pressure, and ‘Cold Weather’ Urge Incontinence – or cold diuresis – is the intense signal to urinate even if the bladder isn’t actually full. Both are suffered more frequently or severely during extreme cold weather snaps.
But why should we suffer these awkward and embarrassing conditions? Post-natal expert Jenny Burrell says we shouldn’t. Jenny, who specialises in helping women strengthen their pelvic floor and recover from incontinence through her hugely successful Holistic Core Restore programmes, has compiled her Top Tips for combating Urinary Stress and Urge Incontinence during the cold winter months:
- Don’t ‘go just in case‘ – The ‘bladder’ consists of the detrusor muscle, it needs to relax to fill the bladder and contract to empty, issues occur when the fill and contract signals go wrong. If you are what’s called a ‘JICer’, you go ‘just in case’ without your bladder actually reaching its capacity, you’ll be teaching your bladder to send the signal that it’s full and ready to empty when it actually isn’t. So start, ‘hanging on’ for longer and resist the temptation to go just because you’re near a toilet. This is basic bladder training.
- Distraction Technique 1 – When you’re trying to train yourself to hang on for longer, performing a few quick flicks (tension and release) of your Pelvic Floor muscles can help to change the signal to go
- Distraction Technique 2 – changing your breathing patterns can help to ‘downtrain’ the message and make the sensation less urgent… try breathing in for a count of four and out for a count of four and truly let your body soften and lose tension. The sensation to go should alter.
- Untrain your triggers! For a lot of people, running water is a trigger to urinate, so in a safe place, subject yourself to watching and hearing running water without obeying the urge to go.
- The first port of call is always improving the function of your Pelvic Floor muscles but if you think Pelvic Floor exercise is only about ‘squeezing’ at the red traffic lights, think again…. Kegel have moved on a lot! Try this instead: First, find your pelvic floor muscles (not as easy as it sounds for many!). Front – imagine you need to stop the flow of urine (don’t ever do this as your Pelvic Floor exercise), find those muscles, tension and lift them. Back PF Muscles – Imagine you need to not pass gas, find those muscles, tension and lift them. Now, draw the front muscles and back muscles towards each other and lift the whole pelvic floor. Okay, now you’ve got that, let’s tie that in with the breath because that’s essential… inhale to prepare and as you exhale, draw the front muscles and back muscles towards each other and lift the whole pelvic floor. Voila, you’ve now performed a 21st Century Kegel.
- Do the ‘Knack’… basically when you know you are going to cough or sneeze, tension/activate your Pelvic Floor/Core quickly beforehand as above to help withstand the pressure.
Jenny adds: “Overall, non-optimal bladder function is a common occurrence but don’t believe the advertiser or indeed anyone who tells you that NOTHING can be done about it and wearing pads is the way forward. It is not! It’s common but not acceptable. There are so many avenues to take in order to get help with improving your continence. Never suffer in silence! The remedy is usually very simple.”
- For more information on Jenny’s Holistic Core Restore programmes for women of all ages and conditions, or to find a Holistic Core restore trainer near you, see www.holisticcorerestore.com.