Healthy bladders are often compromised by extended sitting and poor bathroom facilities (in both quality and quantity)—both common aspects in our nation’s schools and workplaces. These conditions often account for the retraining of the bladder to store a larger volume of urine than is medically recommended. This can cause a sluggish bladder, which results in the urge to empty the bladder again in a relatively short amount of time.
The bladder is simply a reservoir for urine and not designed to store copious amounts of urine. The brain signals the urge response when a pre-set amount (which varies per individual) is stored. A good rule of thumb is to comfortably wait to empty the bladder every couple of hours. Many individuals, especially women, have a tendency to ignore this urge and will wait to urinate when their bladder is two or three times larger than the recommended volume. Regular flushing of the bladder serves to discourage bacterial growth, while maintaining proper bladder size and elasticity. An overstretched bladder is not going to recoil as effectively (think of an overused rubber band) and eventually will become sluggish.
For sluggish bladders, the following better bladder techniques may provide some relief.
1. It all Starts with a Flush
Better bladder health begins with drinking lots of water to help dilute the urine and regularly flush the bladder. The goal is to reach eight glasses per day. If you do not like the taste of water, try adding the juice of a fresh lemon or orange, or try some of these unique flavoring ideas.
2. Pelvic Floor Training
Strengthening the bladder muscle provides optimal storage and emptying capacities and encourages a healthy bladder. This is best achieved by Kegel exercises. Contract the pelvic floor muscles and hold for a ten-second count and relax. It is recommended that you perform ten repetitions every hour.
3. Walk and Squat
Better bladder health is greatly improved with the addition of this pelvic-floor strengthening exercise. The goal is to reach thirty walk and squats per day. To do a walk and squat: walk five steps, stop and squat. Hold for a five-second count and relax. Do not do all thirty at the same time—instead, perform a set of five walk and squats at a time, until you reach a total of six cycles per day.
4. Empty, Wait, Empty
Better bladder health includes completely emptying the bladder, otherwise the urge to go will return fifteen minutes later (however, it is normal to have a small residual of approximately 1.5 oz). Pregnancy and age can lead to bladder relaxation and result in the incomplete emptying of the bladder. Do not try to combat this by forcing urine out of the bladder, as the pressure actually causes more problems. Instead, try and relax the pelvic floor by taking several slow deep breaths. After urination, continue sitting and wait a minute and then try to urinate again to empty the rest of the bladder.
By following these recommendations, better bladder health can easily be achieved in a few short weeks. If you are suffering from a medically-related bladder disorder or take prescription medication that affects bladder emptying or have other symptoms, be sure to consult your physician before attempting this program.