pelvic floor

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Why To Do Yoga Today: For Older Women, Less Leakage

Chaturanga, or the low yoga pushup. (Kennguru via Wikimedia Commons)

Chaturanga, or the low yoga pushup. (Kennguru via Wikimedia Commons)

In yoga circles, the pelvic floor is the new core.

Let me explain: I’ve been doing yoga steadily for the past 10 years and recently I’ve noticed a shift in focus. There’s less emphasis on pure “core” work — that is, basically, abdominal toning — and more talk about the pelvic floor, specifically, strengthening this deeper internal region of the body. If you don’t get what I’m talking about, just imagine 90 minutes of kegels.

So it comes as no big surprise that a new report suggests targeted yoga can help women over 40 who suffer from urinary incontinence, which can arise from stretched, weakened or too-tight pelvic floor muscles due to childbirth, aging or other reasons.

The yoga study, by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco offers a possible path to alleviate the symptoms of urinary incontinence, notably, accidental pee leakage, without surgery, with has been associated with all kinds of problems.

From the UCSF news release:

In a study scheduled to be published on April 25, 2014 in Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgery, the official journal of the American Urogynecologic Society, UCSF researchers discovered that a yoga training program, designed to improve pelvic health, can help women gain more control over their urination and avoid accidental urine leakage.

“Yoga is often directed at mindful awareness, increasing relaxation, and relieving anxiety and stress,” said first author Alison Huang, MD, assistant professor in the UCSF School of Medicine. “For these reasons, yoga has been directed at a variety of other conditions – metabolic syndrome or pain syndromes – but there’s also a reason to think that it could help for incontinence as well.”

Huang and her colleagues recruited 20 women from the Bay Area who were 40 years and older and who suffered from urinary incontinence on a daily basis. Half were randomly assigned to take part in a six-week yoga therapy program and the other half were not. The women who took part in the yoga program experienced an overall 70 percent improvement – or reduction – in the frequency of their urine leakage compared to the baseline. The control group – or the group that did not start yoga therapy – only had 13 percent improvement. Continue reading