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Mind over Bladder: Let's Talk about it. 


I know... it happens to many of us. Maybe you are embarrassed by it, laugh it off as a joke, or avoid exercise all together. The reality is 50% of adult women and 75% of women over the age of 65 struggle with controlling their bladder according to the Mayo Clinic¹. Because of this many will wave it off as “normal”. But as Jessie Mundell, BPHE, MHK, P.Kin says, “Common and normal are different things”. 

While it effects men and women - Urinary Incontinence often blamed on the children we’ve birthed (often true!) However, due to laughing it off that we “can’t jump or else..”, have an accident after sneezing, or being too embarrassed to talk about it AT ALL has created a culture of ignoring the symptom of a weak pelvic floor – often the cause of lack of bladder control.  

While it is always good to talk to your OBGYN or a Physical Therapist specializing in Pelvic Floor function, many times we can make great progress with these 3 steps. 


  1. Breath Connection: The ability to feel and control the rise and fall of your pelvic floor muscles is key to controlling the release of urine.  

  • Try sitting cross legged on the floor, on a stability ball, or upright without the support of the back of a chair. 

  •  Start a pattern of slow and controlled breathing, about 4 seconds in, a brief hold, and 4 seconds out. 

  • After about 4 mindful breaths, see if you can notice the movement of the central muscles between your sitz bones and start to synchronize and emphasize the fall and upward pull of your pelvic floor muscles. Spend a few minutes here daily as a start.  


So... Like a Kegel?  
While kegels have become a common “fix” for strengthening the muscles. It is also important to be mindful of the release of that muscle. In fact, over stimulating with the constant upward pull of the pelvic floor muscle can lead to problems as well. Imagine what would happen if you kept your shoulders constantly squeezed up towards your ears!  


  1. Adding Weight to the Connection: After getting comfortable with the up and down control of your pelvic floor muscles, it’s incredibly beneficial to take that skill and use it while exerting force. A great way to practice this is while picking up a basket of laundry (or something of a similar weight) off the floor. 

  • Inhale (allowing the muscles to fall) as you bend your knees and lower your butt towards the ground. Keep your spine straight, without curving the back. Then exhale as you lift the object off the ground, simultaneously lift your floor muscles. 

  • Continue to use the 4 count breath to match to your movement. The try a 2 count, faster version. Can you still keep the control?  

This can feel a little awkward at first, but the more you practice in a controlled environment, the more second nature it will become through all movement patterns.  


  1. Offset Loads: When you use an offset movement or weight, our body activates the deep core and floor muscles to balance.  

  • Next time you are lifting weights try a standing single arm bicep curl or a single arm chest press.  

  • Walk holding a weight in just one hand or do a squat with weight in just one hand.  

Pay attention to how your core reacts. Do you feel one side activating more than the other? Noticing these small changes will continue to keep you mindful of the control you have over the deep floor muscles.  


Jumping, running, and planking exercises can be a catalyst of leaking with an already weak pelvic floor. It may be a good idea to take a break from activities that put extra pressure on the pelvic floor for a few months until you sure up the muscles. 


Taking these steps may feel foreign. If you need some help with ideas for movements that would be beneficial, make sure to contact a personal trainer. As part of your membership, you have two free Get Started appointments! One way or another, let’s start the conversation so we can move more comfortably through life. 


Jerilyn C., Gretna Crossing YMCA Health & Wellness Manager 

Category: Health & Wellness

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Meet Jerilynn!

Jerilynn has a passion for Health beyond the Wellness floor. As an advocate of all-encompassing health: mind, body, and soul; she can often be found behind a book or on a walk or hike with loved ones when she’s not at the Y. With a history in creating programs to support healthy community, Jerilynn is constantly on the lookout for missing links in her local population. She loves volunteering at her church and coaching members in Group and Personal training at the Y.