5 Simple Tips to Improve Your Bowel Incontinence Exercises
Certain exercises can help people with bowel incontinence. When done correctly, they can strengthen the muscles that are needed to hold both gas and faeces in the anus (you can read more about proper bowel function here). However, how to do these exercises can feel like a bit of a mystery at first. Keep reading for our top tips on how to become an expert at bowel incontinence exercises!
Exercise Tip 1: Get comfortable
Find a relaxing place to first do your exercises, away from any noise or bright lights. Sit or lie with your knees slightly apart, and relax. Some people like to listen to calming music whilst doing their exercises, or to light a pleasant- smelling candle in the room. Of course, once you’ve become a bowel incontinence exercise expert, you can do the routine wherever you like – nobody needs to know what you’re doing!
Exercise Tip 2: Squeeze and lift!
Imagine you are trying to stop a bowel movement, or avoid passing wind. Squeeze and lift the muscles that you would need to do that – this is the back of your pelvic floor. Make sure you squeeze as tightly as you can, to the point where you can feel the muscles move. Your buttocks, tummy and legs should not move at all, and you should not need to hold your breath. Hopefully, you’ll quickly feel the muscles of the anus tighten as they are pulled up and away from your chair or the floor.
Exercise Tip 3: Hold and repeat!
Once you’ve felt the squeeze, hold it for 5-10 seconds, breathing normally at all times. Relax for 10 seconds, then do the whole routine 10-20 more times. It is recommend that you do this up to 5 times a day.
Exercise Tip 4: Be patient!
It’s important to be patient when doing these exercises, as it is not always easy to find the right muscles when you start. You should be able to see the results within a couple of weeks, but if not, there are some other aids that can help make them easier. Have a conversation with your healthcare professional or a nurse incontinence advisor to find out what might work for you. One option is biofeedback, which is a way to monitor the effectiveness of your pelvic floor exercises, so that you can train yourself to do them properly. A machine records the contractions as you do the exercises, and displays the results on a monitor so that you can see if your squeezing is correct.
Exercise Tip 5: Remember the list of ‘do nots’
Whenever you are doing bowel incontinence exercises, try NOT to:
- Bring your knees together
- Hold your breath
- Squeeze your buttocks, tummy or legs
- Lift your shoulders, eyebrows or toes
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