Ladies, did you know you could have fun and reduce bladder leaks at the same time? Typically, bladder solutions include Kegel exercises, avoiding bladder irritants, and sometimes surgery. However, today’s solution happens to be fun and sexy. Keep reading to see how belly dancing might be able to help you cease bladder leaks.
What is Belly Dancing?
If you ask an expert, they’ll likely say that belly dancing is the oldest form of dance. In ancient times, the exercise was done during fertility rites or parties preparing a young lady for marriage. The dance focuses on women doing movements from their torso instead of their legs and feet. Today, a lot of ladies do it to get their sexy back, feel feminine, and to learn something new. But, that’s not the only thing it does.
Belly Dancing and the Bladder
You’re probably wondering, what in the world does belly dancing have to do with your bladder? The short answer is that belly dancing strengthens and tones your stomach muscles, also known as your core muscles. Because your core muscles also help support other muscles, like your pelvic floor muscles, your bladder benefits. The pelvic floor contracts simultaneously with the deep muscles of your back and abdomen.
Together they provide strength, support, and stability to your spine and organs whenever you move. So, by strengthening the core, you can reduce or say bye-bye to urinary incontinence from activities like belly dancing. Who knew that swaying your hips side-to-side could help restore the pelvic organs’ support and help to control against leakage? And of course if you need a little extra back up while you sway, Lily Bird has you covered with pads and underwear designed specifically for bladder leaks.
A Study on Belly Dancing
A study done in 2017 revealed that belly dancing is much more than cute costumes or a type of exercise. In fact, it’s actually a health benefit. For the study, they recruited 24 middle-aged women with urinary incontinence. 12 of those women participated in a 90-day belly dancing program, while the other 12 didn’t.
The 90-day belly dancing program included 90-minute sessions that were done two times a week. The program focused a lot on pelvic muscle strength training that included fun and sensual moves like:
- Leg shimmying
- Body shimmying
- Pelvic tilts
- Hip dropping and lifting
- Hip sliding
- Belly rolls
- Hip thrusting
- Choo-choo shimmying
- Hip circles
- Hip bumps
All of the ladies had their vaginal pressure and urinary incontinence-related muscles measured before and after the experiment. The researchers found that the maximum pressure of the pelvic floor muscle contraction increased for those in the belly dancing program. Plus, how long the pelvic floor contraction lasted also increased. Overall, the women that belly danced had a better ability to squeeze around their pelvic openings to prevent spritz and drips. As a result, they had fewer leaks due to stronger pelvic floor muscles and they also walked away with tantalizing dance moves. Sounds like a win-win to me!
The Benefits of Belly Dancing Over Other Exercises
If you’re trying to think of non-boring ways to improve your pelvic floor strength, belly dancing is it. It’s fun, expressive, and sensual. Plus, there are tons of different belly dancing styles, so you won’t get bored anytime soon. Another thing to consider is that it is appropriate for all ages and body shapes. Because it’s low-impact, you won’t be putting a lot of pressure on your joints, but you’ll still reap many benefits such as:
- Better pelvic floor contraction and relaxation coordination, which helps with stopping leaks
- Weight loss: you can burn approximately 300-500 calories in just 1 hour
- Alleviates lower back pain
- Improves muscular control
- Makes childbirth easier since you’re using the same muscles to help push a baby out
- Improves your posture
Also, contrary to popular belief, you absolutely don’t have to show your belly when belly dancing if you don’t want to.
Things You Should Know
Although belly dancing is good for urinary incontinence, more studies are needed regarding its benefit for other urinary conditions. Also, there are certain dance styles you should be careful with, like jumping. If you have prolapse, then that might make your symptoms worse, which we know you don’t want. Some belly dancing movements do put a lot of pressure on the pelvic floor, such as strong belly rolls, sharp hip movements, and intense shimmies. So if you have a weaker pelvic floor, take it easy with those movements so as not to place any unnecessary downward pressure there.
Try The Infamous Hip Roll
One belly dance that’s popular in the U.S. is the hip roll. If you want to start with hip rolling, check out the following:
- Stand with your feet wider than your hips
- Bend your knees slightly
- Put your arms out to the sides of your shoulders
- Bend your elbows at 90 degrees
- Make a fist with your hands and ensure your palms are facing down
- Now, raise your right hip up and to the side and then backward in a circular motion
- After that, roll your hips around and to the left
- Draw your hips forward and underneath your shoulders to complete a full circle
- Repeat the above in the opposite direction
Belly Dance For Your Bladder
In the world of leaks, sometimes the most random activity may be a great solution. Such is the case with belly dancing. If you’re struggling with urinary incontinence and want to try something that you can do at home, why not give belly dancing a go? More research still needs to be done, but there’s no harm in trying out this fun exercise.
By Jessica Thomas, MPH