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Stress Incontinence

By Bell Moody, PT, DPT

What is it?


There are different types of urinary incontinence and/or urinary leakage. “Stress” incontinence being one specific type.


Stress incontinence is when urinary leakage occurs with excess stress and/or pressure to the bladder with situations such as: coughing, sneezing, laughing, jumping, running, bouncing, etc.


To understand stress incontinence and how to resolve it you must understand the layout and function of the abdomen, bladder, pelvis, and bladder.


First, we’ll start with the bladder. The bladder is made for STORAGE, it’s specifically designed to hold ~16 oz of urine for 3-4 hours at a time.

It’s not supposed to empty until it’s filled almost completely! When the bladder is full it senses excess pressure and then contracts to expel the contents.

As the bladder contracts the pelvic floor muscles below it relax to allow the contents to exit.


So imagine when there is excess downward pressure to the bladder inside the abdomen with a sneeze, cough, laugh, jump, etc. your bladder would empty right? Well, the reason it doesn’t is because in a healthy pelvis the pelvic floor and core musculature contract upward to expel air and pressure out the mouth/nose and contract around the urethra to prevent leakage from occurring.


In cases of stress incontinence, typically the core and pelvic floor musculature need to be recalibrated in order to prevent leakage from occurring.


A systematic review from March of 2022 found that pelvic floor muscle training from a licensed physical therapist improved almost all urinary incontinence symptoms and also improved patients quality of life, and mental health.


Today I want to give you two tips you can use at home on your own outside of seeing a pelvic PT like me that can help improve stress incontinence symptoms.

1. Always remember to “exhale with exertion”. Never hold your breath with exertional activities such as lifting, sneezing, and coughing. Imagine your breath traveling upward and all the way out your mouth or nose!

2. A lot of times stress incontinence is due to an overactive pelvic floor and/or tight pelvic floor. The muscles are contracted and working all day long so when the time comes for them to counteract that pressure they can’t because they’re exhausted. Take 3-5 minutes daily to perform belly/diaphragmatic breathing to allow your pelvic floor to rest.


For specialized and individualized treatment for stress incontinence feel free to make an appointment with me, Bell, to take power over urinary incontinence!

Call 662-617-4350 or email: bellmoodydpt@gmail.com to schedule an appointment!

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