Interstitial cystitis is a fairly common disorder of the urinary bladder, and affects a significantly large percentage of women as compared to men. Apart from treating it with medication and surgery, patients are often advised exercises which can reduce the discomfort associated with the disease.
Interstitial cystitis, also known as bladder pain syndrome, is a very painful condition and patients experience increased frequency of urination, and symptoms can worsen at night, during intercourse, after consumption of certain foods, or while driving and traveling. Patients who are diagnosed with this ailment are usually put on oral medication, have their diets modified, and sometimes in severe cases, may have to undergo surgery. A lot of medical professionals are also advising patients to exercise, which when combined with the right course of treatment and diet can help patients heal faster and feel better.
Exercises Recommended for Interstitial Cystitis
Those suffering from interstitial cystitis experience pain in the pelvic floor muscles. These muscles are responsible for controlling the bladder movements which in turn control the flow of urine. Pain in the pelvic floor muscles results in spasms which can also spread to the lower abdomen. Exercises that are gentle for the body and do not involve sudden, jerky movements which might put unwanted pressure on the pelvic floor area, are a good option.
Some of the recommended exercise options in this case are walking, yoga, gentle stretching, and swimming. The pool water might contain harmful chemicals, so you need to be careful when you swim. Shower and change into fresh clothing as soon as you step out of the pool. Tai chi, a traditional Chinese form of therapy that uses both meditation and physical exercise to treat a wide variety of disorders can also be practiced. If you have access to a gym, you can opt for aerobic exercises that are not too strenuous for the body.
Do not perform exercises which involve sudden, jarring movements. An elliptical is a good option and helps to improve your condition without straining the pelvic muscles. Before you begin exercising, it is essential to warm up. Stretch you legs and arms to prevent muscles and ligaments from developing a tear. Stretching also helps to lighten the muscles and relieve the soreness.
Kegel exercises are easily the best option available for interstitial cystitis patients, more so for women. They are extremely effective in taking the pressure of the pelvic floor muscles which can help a patient to have better control over the flow of urine. The technique is to locate the right pelvic muscles which aid in urination, and learn how to contract and relax them. To get started, squeeze the muscles that you use to stop the flow of urine. You should feel the pelvic floor area rising upward. Now relax the muscles. Once you have identified the muscles, follow this contracting and relaxing technique in an alternating fashion, each for 5 seconds. Do this exercise everyday.
Increase the duration of contraction and relaxation to 10 seconds gradually. Do this set of exercises thrice a day. The best part of Kegel exercises is that you can do them discreetly any time of the day, whether you are working at your desk, cooking, or even sitting in front of the TV. A common mistake most people do is to contract the wrong set of muscles, especially the abdominal or thigh muscles. You may not get the technique right the very first day, do not worry, you are not expected to either. Within a few days you would know which muscles you really need to flex right. Remember to breathe freely while doing these exercises, and not do the exercises on a full bladder.
This technique is useful in case of patients who want to strengthen their pelvic muscles, but are unable to locate them. In this case, the doctor will place electrodes on several parts of the body, specifically over the abdomen, thighs, or in some cases inside the vagina and anus. These electrodes monitor the movement of your muscles, and you can see the output on a computer screen which explains whether you squeezed the right muscles and the duration for which you squeezed them. This makes patients more aware of their own body and helps them to perform these exercises effectively.
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation
Using this technique, doctors place electrodes over the lower abdomen of a patient which emits very mild electric current. The transmitted current contracts the muscles around the bladder and the pelvic floor muscles. The patient may experience a mild whirring feeling. This contraction helps in strengthening these muscles. Once he knows which muscles he needs to contract, he can perform the exercises by himself.
For patients suffering from interstitial cystitis, life can seem hard. They may feel that exercises are not the right option for them. But they need to know the countless long-term benefits of exercise, and the need to do them regularly. Always consult with your health care professional or physical therapist before embarking on an exercise regimen. It’s alright to give your exercise a miss if you feel your bladder pain is intense on certain days. But otherwise, maintain an exercise regimen, and follow the doctor’s guidelines for your overall well-being.