Sometimes a sneeze comes out of nowhere, followed by a little leak. Hopefully you've already started practising your pelvic floor exercises after reading my Kegel with Confidence guide, however, whether you've started strengthening your pelvic floor muscles or not, the Knack is a technique you can use to help prevent unwanted leaks when you’re about to cough, sneeze or perform any activity that causes downward pressure on the pelvic floor muscles. It is also a very useful technique to help protect a prolapse and reduce prolapse symptoms.
When the pelvic floor muscles are working as they should, they automatically contract before and during any increase in downward pressure but for those of us whose pelvic floor muscles are not working optimally, this automatic contraction doesn't happen and so we experience some bladder leakage. By actively contracting your pelvic floor muscles in preparation for the sneeze or cough you can minimise or prevent those leaks from happening.
The Knack is very useful when you do any activity that increases downward pressure on the pelvic floor muscles such as :
- Blowing your nose
- Rising into standing from sitting
- Stepping down heavily
In a nutshell, the Knack is a strong, well timed Kegel.
You can practice The Knack exercise to control bladder leaks and support your pelvic floor, here’s how…
1. Start practising the Knack in a seated position. Sit up tall away from the back of the chair with your shoulders relaxed and the normal inward curve in your low back. When you feel confident with the technique progress to practising standing up
2. Contract around all three pelvic openings (urethra, vagina and anus) with a strong inward lift and squeeze of your pelvic floor muscles
3. Maintain this pelvic floor muscle contraction as you do a small cough
4. After you cough, relax your pelvic floor muscles back to normal resting level
5. Progress this exercise with a stronger cough, or coughing several times in a row whilst maintaining your pelvic floor contraction throughout.
This is a quick and simple technique that you can use as part of your pelvic floor training and to help avoid bladder leaks as you go about your day.