Recovering from stress incontinence

Pelvic Health is More than Doing Kegel Exercises

The Answer Isn’t Simply “Do More Kegels”

The Pelvic System and Kegel Exercises

If you’ve ever mentioned light bladder leakage (stress incontinence) in passing while chatting with friends, one of the first replies you might hear in response is “do kegels”.  Even healthcare professionals will sometimes dismiss light leakage, suggesting to their patients that they should do more kegels. But kegels alone might not be the answer.

Kegel exercises are pelvic floor exercises.  The exercises consist of repetitions of contracting and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles, thereby strengthening the muscles. Kegel exercises can help alleviate stress urinary incontinence if pelvic floor strength is the issue.  However, pelvic floor strength may not be the only reason someone has stress urinary incontinence. So instead of “Think Kegels”, “Think Pelvic Health”.

What’s Going on With your Pelvic System?

The pelvic system is a complex orchestra of muscles, including the diaphragm, deep abdominal muscles, spine stabilizing muscles and pelvic floor.  Strengthening one muscle in this system won’t solve the problem if that muscle strength isn’t the cause. Each part of the pelvic system contributes to proper function, and a breakdown in the system can result in various pelvic health issues, including (but not limited to) stress incontinence.

Some factors that may lead to stress incontinence or pelvic pain include:

  • weak pelvic floor muscles
  • overactive pelvic floor muscles – these are ‘hypertonic’ muscles that can’t contract well because they’re always ‘on’ and can’t relax
  • poor core stability
  • uncoordinated contractions of the diaphragm, pelvic floor, and deep abdominals
  • pelvic organ prolapse

The muscles that comprise this important core system are difficult to identify and isolate because they’re internal muscles.  It’s not like flexing a bicep and immediately seeing the result in a bulked up arm. That makes it difficult to know exactly what’s causing the issue without having it assessed. For women who have stress incontinence and want to resolve the issue, doing kegels might be part of the solution, but there really isn’t a straightforward ‘one size fits all’ solution for everyone.  To be sure, you can enlist the help of a pelvic health specialist or urinary gynecologist.


Stress Incontinence and Pelvic Health – Cheryl Leia, Certified Pelvic Health Physiotherapist


Why Do I Pee When I Work Out?

More from Recovery

Stress Incontinence and Pelvic Health

understanding the core system and pelvic health for recovery from urinary incontinence

Expert Opinion – Cheryl Leia Certified Pelvic Health Physiotherapist Coretiques developer and master trainer Instead of “Think Kegels”, “Think Pelvic Health” to Rid Yourself of Stress Urinary Incontinence We asked pelvic health specialist Cheryl Leia about the issues surrounding stress … read more

What is the Transversus Abdominis

transversus abdominus strenthening for core control and stress urinary incontinence prevention

How does the Transversus Abdominis help control stress urinary incontinence? If you’re actively trying to recover from stress urinary incontinence, you probably spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about your pelvic floor, along with kegels kegels kegels.  While it’s … read more

Yoga For Stress Urinary Incontinence


If you practice yoga regularly or have tried it in the past, you have probably found that it’s a great way to find focus and relaxation along with the physical rewards of strength and flexibility.  Yoga is often used as … read more

Core Training for Continence Recovery


Birth trauma, high-impact activities, hormone fluctuations as we age – any or all of these can lead to weakened pelvic floor causing stress urinary incontinence.  A program called Coretiques, created by physiotherapist Cheryl Leia aims to retrain the deep core … read more

Pelvic Floor Resilience


When you think about strengthening your pelvic floor, you may immediately think “kegels”, but really the pelvic floor is more than a single isolated muscle.  The muscles, ligaments, connective tissue and tendons that support the pelvic organs and control the … read more

At the Urinary Gynecologist – True Confessions


For years, I’d casually mention stress incontinence as a concern during my annual physical exams, usually at the end of the exam when the doctor asks “any questions or health concerns?”.  In general the response was something like ‘oh, yeah, … read more

Stress Urinary Incontinence is Stressful

Stress Urinary Incontinence Causing Stress

Is Stress Urinary Incontinence causing you stress?  Depending on how severe your condition is and what your recovery goals are, there are a number of different ways to handle SUI – from simply avoiding situations that may cause ‘stress’, all … read more