Incontinence and posture are two things I probably think about more than any person should. Incontinence is a bigger issue that most people realize in large part because many incontinent people don’t feel comfortable talking about such a sensitive subject.(As I was writing this my wife come home from having drinks with friends where they were chatting about incontinence so what do I know)
Good posture is all about the position of the pelvis. Incontinence is all about the contents of the pelvis. Therefore I would think that the two issues must be connected.
Incontinence manifests along a wide scale of symptoms, from drop leaking out from sneezing to peeing the bed at night. The number of people that have experienced a form of incontinence between these two poles is staggering. Is good posture the antidote to incontinence? I can’t imagine that it is the only answer but the proper alignment of the pelvic bones and decent tone in the pelvic muscles would have to be helpful.
Urinary incontinence is an issue for women way more that for men and is a greater issue for women who have given birth than for those who have not. Pelvic exercises will build tone in the muscles of the pelvic floor which are as important as any in the body. The role of the pelvic floor has changed since humans came up to stand and these muscles require more tone than in an animal that walks on all fours.
The levator ani, the main muscle of the pelvic floor, is actually comprised of three muscles that play a vital role in supporting the organs housed above them. The urethra, the tube of peeing, is supported by the levator ani muscles in both a voluntary and involuntary way.
I have written before (ad nauseum) about the correct placement of the pelvis but here I will connect the same concept for doing any pelvic exercise with the likelihood of our becoming incontinent. For the record it is my goal to stay continent till the day I day but in looking at the experience of my parents I worry that I won’t succeed.
Mula bandha in yoga, which is an engagement of the levator ani, is known as the root lock, engaged to lock energy into the lower trunk. When performing mula bandha or any pelvic lift, it is important to feel that the action travels up through the central spine without interruption from the pubic bone at the front or the sacrum at the back.
The levator ani connects from the tail bone to the pubic bone. Our rectus abdominis connects from the pubic bone to the rib cage so in some ways they can be seen as a single muscle. So when you do a kegel or pelvic lift successfully, there should be a secondary engagement of the rectus abdominis (this is udiyana bandha for yogis).
The feeling of the pelvic lift rising up the center of the body is also a marker for good posture and the most likely means to avoiding incontinence by building muscle strength.
If your pelvis and therefore your posture is correctly aligned, the pelvic muscles can develop in their proper place and can therefore make incontinence much less likely.