Exercises for an Overactive Bladder
By Osteopath, Heather Stone
What is Overactive Bladder Syndrome?
Overactive Bladder Syndrome (OAB) is exactly what it sounds like. When a healthy bladder is full of urine, this is relayed to the brain which then signals the bladder to squeeze the bladder muscles. This then forces the urine out. When a healthy bladder is not full, the bladder muscles are relaxed. With OAB your bladder signals the brain that it is full even if it is not. This causes the muscles to squeeze and make you feel like you need the washroom urgently even if there is no urine in the bladder.
Your bladder is considered “overactive” when you experience these three main symptoms:
A feeling that you all of a sudden have to go to the washroom, urgently.
You leak urine when you feel like you have to go to the washroom.
You have to urinate frequently in small amounts, day and night.
Having an overactive bladder can also make you feel like you need to urinate even when your bladder is empty. You can sometimes feel like your bladder muscles are squeezing to empty your bladder although it is not. If you urinate eight or more times each day and night, or fear that urine will leak out before you’re ready, you may have an over active bladder.
What is Normal?
On average, we should urinate no more than every 2.5 hours based on a usual intake of water (approximately 8 cups per day). However, how much you should drink varies person to person. The best way to tell if you are drinking enough water is to look at the colour of your urine. If your urine is dark or has a very strong odor, your body is telling you to drink more water. If your urine is clear and pale yellow in colour, you are likely well-hydrated. There is no set “normal” across the board when it comes to urinary frequency. The average bladder can hold about 10 - 15 ounces of liquid. A loose rule of thumb is that if you are drinking enough water, one would urinate 6 to 7 times a day equaling to once about every 2.5 hours.
Bladder tone exercises called "quick flicks" engage your pelvic floor muscles. You can use those muscles with this exercise to help alleviate the “gotta go” feeling. Start out still and relaxed. Draw your focus to your pelvic floor muscles and gently start squeezing them repeatedly. Aim for one second intervals of engaging and relax the muscles. Use this exercise when you start feeling the need to use the washroom. If you feel the need to urinate within a two hour window, try the quick flicks exercise and see if it can settle your bladder.
How Can Osteopathy Help?
Osteopaths that specialize in Visceral Osteopathy can help individuals affected by OAB. Visceral Osteopathy is an expansion of the general principles of osteopathy which includes a special understanding of the organs, blood vessels, and nerves of the body. Osteopaths can use this knowledge to manipulate muscles of the pelvic floor used by the bladder to relax and improve blood flow of this region. This can progressively correct the muscles to remain relaxed, which will help reduce the frequency of symptoms of an overactive bladder.