Written by Madelaine Golec
As a busy entrepreneur or business owner, the last thing you want stealing your attention is your bladder, and yet that is exactly with an overactive bladder does.
The International Continence Society defines Overactive Bladder (OAB) as urgency, with or without incontinence and increased daytime/nighttime urinating (1, 2). So basically it feels like you have to pee all the time and in some cases you may not make it. Who wants to be looking for a toilet all the time or stopping in the middle of a project just to pee?
In the US, it is estimated that 16% of men and 17% of women older than 18 years old are affected (1). There can be many reasons why someone develops an overactive bladder. I highly encourage you to seek help from a pelvic floor physiotherapist to explore those reasons, so they may provide you with a direct treatment plan to address it.
The purpose of this article is to give you some immediate tips that will help reduce the risk and symptoms of OAB.
Tip #1 — Eliminating Bladder Irritants
Cut back on, and if possible, completely eliminate irritants like coffee, artificial sweetners/aspartame, spicy foods, citris, carbonated drinks, alcohol, and tomato based products (1, 3).
Tip #2 — Nighttime Frequency
Try reducing fluid intake after 6 pm, or approximately 3-4 hours prior to bed. If the air is dry in your home, this can make you drink throughout the night. To avoid this, try using a humidifier.
Tip #3 — Manage Bowel Regularity
Constipation or straining on the toilet have negative consequences for OAB and the pelvic floor (1). Ensure you are drinking enough water and getting a fiber intake of at least 35 grams daily. To reduce straining on the toilet, check out our video for positions and exercises.
Tip #4 — Eating your fruits and vegetables
Making healthier food choices has been shown to decrease the risk of getting OAB (3). Additionally, fruits and vegetables can help regulate bowels, which can help with symptoms of OAB.
Tip #5 — Increase physical activity
Physical activity has been shown to reduce the risk of getting OAB. Walking is a great low impact exercise that gets your body moving but also helps to clear your mind and decrease stress (3).
Tip #6 — Decrease stress
Decreasing stress can reduce the risk and symptoms of OAB. If you are constantly on the go, there is higher risk of the bladder being on the go. There are a variety of ways to decrease stress such as physical activity, meditation, journaling, or other leisure activities.
3 Helpful Exercises to Combat OAB
- Hip flexor stretch: You can perform this exercise by kneeling or standing. Step your left leg forward and lean forward so your left knee bends to your comfort level and you feel a stretch in your right hip. Then lift your right arm up straight and lean over to the left. This will increase the stretch through the right side of the abdomen. Hold for 30 seconds. Then switch legs so the right leg is forward and repeat for 30 seconds.
* watch a video demonstration on the hip flexor stretch here *
- Lumbar Spine Rotation: Laying flat on your back with your knees bent, allow your knees to gently fall to the right, then turn your head to the left allowing your spine to turn and your side abdominal muscles to stretch. Hold for 10 seconds. Then gently bring your knees to the left and your head to the right, and hold for 10 seconds. Make sure to take a deep breath into the stretch. Repeat on each side 5-10 times.
* watch a video demonstration on the lumbar spine rotation stretch here *
- Seated Side Bend Stretch: Sitting on the floor with legs crossed or sitting on a ball or chair. Raise your right arm up as high as you can comfortably go then lean over to the left (like tipping a tea cup). Hold for 10 seconds. Take a few deep breaths. Then switch. Lift the left arm straight up and bend your body to the right. Hold for 10 seconds, taking deep breaths, and repeat 5-10 times.
* watch a video demonstration on the seated side bend stretch here *
Madelaine Golec is based out of Mississauga, Ontario, and as a Registered Physiotherapist, Pelvic Health Physiotherapist, and owner of ECO Physiotherapy, she is passionate about helping others find their optimal health.
- Wyman, J.F et al. 2009. Practical aspects of lifestyle modifications and behavioural interventions in the treatment of overactive bladder and urgency urinary incontinence. Int J Clin Pract. V 63(8): 1177-1191.
- Yamaguchi, O et al. 2009. Clinical guidelines for overactive bladder. International Journal of Urology. V. 16: 126-142.
- Dallosso, H.M et al. 2003. The association of diet and other lifestyle factos with overactive bladder and stress incontinence: a longitudinal study in women. BJU International. V 92: 69-77.
Featured image courtesy of shutterstock.com