Role of Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation in the Management of Urinary Incontinence

Role of Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation in the Management of Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence is a common problem affecting millions of people worldwide, and it can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life. Pelvic floor rehabilitation is an effective treatment option for urinary incontinence, which can help to improve symptoms and increase patients’ overall satisfaction with their lives. In this blog, we will explore the role of pelvic floor rehabilitation in the management of urinary incontinence and how it can benefit those who are suffering from this condition.

Pelvic floor rehabilitation is a non-invasive treatment that focuses on addressing the muscles in the pelvic floor region. The pelvic floor is a group of muscles that stretch like a hammock from the pubic bone in the front to the tailbone in the back, supporting the organs located in the pelvic region such as the bladder, uterus, and rectum. The main role of the pelvic floor is to provide stability to the pelvis and support the organs, as well as to help control the opening and closing of the urethra, anus, and vagina in women. Additionally, the pelvic floor is important in maintaining urinary and fecal continence, which means it helps control the flow of urine and stool. Pelvic floor rehabilitation aims to address dysfunction or weakness of the pelvic floor muscles to improve symptoms of urinary and fecal incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, and sexual dysfunction.

There are different types of urinary incontinence, including stress incontinence, urge incontinence, and mixed incontinence. Stress incontinence occurs when physical activity, such as coughing, sneezing, laughing, or lifting, puts pressure on the bladder and causes urine leakage. Urge incontinence is when there is a sudden, intense urge to urinate followed by an involuntary loss of urine before reaching the toilet. Mixed incontinence is a combination of both stress and urge incontinence, where a person experiences symptoms of both types of incontinence. Pelvic floor rehabilitation can help to improve all types of urinary incontinence.

Pelvic floor rehabilitation typically involves a combination of exercises, education, and behavioral modifications to address dysfunction or weakness of the pelvic floor muscles. Based on a thorough evaluation of the pelvic floor muscles and surrounding structures, the physiotherapist will create a personalized treatment plan that may include pelvic floor exercises, to strengthen and/or improve the flexibility of the pelvic floor muscles. In addition to exercises, pelvic floor rehabilitation may involve education on proper toileting habits, fluid intake, and dietary changes to improve bladder and bowel function. Behavioral modifications, such as timed voiding and bladder retraining, may also be incorporated to help manage symptoms of urinary incontinence.

Pelvic floor rehabilitation is an effective treatment for urinary incontinence, as studies have shown. A meta-analysis of 20 randomized controlled trials found that pelvic floor muscle training significantly reduced urinary incontinence symptoms compared to no treatment or placebo (Dumoulin et al., 2018). Additionally, pelvic floor muscle training has been shown to have long-term benefits. One study of women with stress urinary incontinence found that pelvic floor muscle training improved symptoms at 1-year follow-up (Dumoulin et al., 2018), while another study found that women who underwent pelvic floor muscle training had significantly fewer episodes of urinary incontinence compared to those who did not receive treatment (Price et al., 2010). Pelvic floor rehabilitation can improve the strength and function of the pelvic floor muscles, helping to alleviate symptoms of urinary incontinence and improve the quality of life for those who suffer from this condition.

Pelvic floor rehabilitation: How physiotherapists help manage urinary incontinence

Physiotherapists play a crucial role in pelvic floor rehabilitation for the management of urinary incontinence. They are trained professionals who specialize in assessing, diagnosing, and treating musculoskeletal and neurological conditions. When it comes to pelvic floor rehabilitation, physiotherapists have the knowledge and expertise to design personalized treatment plans to address the specific needs of each patient.

Physiotherapists play a crucial role in the management of urinary incontinence, and their expertise allows them to help patients in various ways. Firstly, they conduct a thorough evaluation of the patient’s condition by taking a detailed medical history and performing a physical examination. During the examination, the physiotherapist will perform an evaluation of the pelvic floor muscles and surrounding structures to identify any specific issues that need to be addressed. This evaluation may include an assessment of muscle strength, endurance, coordination, and the ability to relax the muscles. This evaluation helps the physiotherapist to determine the patient’s specific needs and develop a personalized treatment plan accordingly.

One of the key components of pelvic floor rehabilitation is pelvic floor muscle training. Physiotherapists are experts in teaching patients how to properly perform pelvic floor exercises, whether they are for strengthening or releasing the muscles.  One of these exercises are Kegels, which are designed to strengthen the muscles in the pelvic floor region. The physiotherapist will teach the patient how to correctly perform these exercises and provide guidance on how to gradually increase the intensity and duration of the exercises over time.

In addition to pelvic floor muscle training, physiotherapists can also use other techniques to help patients with urinary incontinence. These may include bladder training, which involves gradually increasing the time between bathroom breaks to help the patient’s bladder hold more urine. The physiotherapist may also recommend lifestyle modifications, such as dietary changes, to reduce bladder irritants that can exacerbate urinary incontinence symptoms.

Physiotherapists can also use biofeedback to help patients with pelvic floor rehabilitation. Biofeedback is a technique that uses sensors to measure muscle activity and provides feedback to the patient. This feedback can help patients learn how to properly contract and/or relax their pelvic floor muscles, which can improve urinary incontinence symptoms. Physiotherapists can also use electrical stimulation, which involves applying a mild electrical current to the pelvic floor muscles, to help improve muscle strength and function.

Physiotherapists can provide effective treatment for urinary incontinence by not only focusing on pelvic floor muscle rehabilitation, but also by addressing any underlying musculoskeletal or neurological conditions that may be contributing to the patient’s symptoms. For instance, conditions affecting the low back can significantly impact the pelvic floor, and tightness or weakness of the abdominals, glutes, and lower extremities may also impede the optimal function of the pelvic floor. By identifying and treating these contributing factors, physiotherapists can provide comprehensive care to help patients effectively manage and overcome urinary incontinence.

In addition to providing treatment for urinary incontinence, physiotherapists can also play a crucial role in educating patients on how to manage their symptoms effectively. This may involve providing guidance on the proper use of incontinence pads, as well as proper cleaning and care of the perineal area to minimize the risk of skin irritation or infection. By equipping patients with the knowledge and skills necessary to manage their urinary incontinence, physiotherapists can help patients feel more confident and in control of their symptoms.

Physiotherapists play a pivotal role in pelvic floor rehabilitation for the management of urinary incontinence. With their expertise in assessing and treating musculoskeletal and neurological conditions, they are well-equipped to design personalized treatment plans to address the specific needs of each patient. By working with a physiotherapist, patients with urinary incontinence can expect to see a significant improvement in their symptoms and an enhancement in their overall quality of life. Overall, physiotherapists’ crucial role in urinary incontinence management cannot be overstated, and their support can make a significant difference in the lives of those struggling with this condition.


This appointment is your opportunity to tell us what hurts and discover whether physiotherapy or chiropractic care is a good fit for you! During this session, you will talk with a physiotherapist or chiropractor on a phone call (or online) and create the right care plan specifically for your pain. There is no obligation on this session is to find out whether physiotherapy or chiropractic care can help you getting back to doing the things you love in life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Pelvic floor exercises can consist of various movements and techniques, and can be performed at any time of the day. To improve pelvic floor muscle function and strength, it is recommended to perform these exercises regularly, ideally daily. Depending on an individual’s specific needs and goals, pelvic floor exercises may include more than just Kegel exercises. These exercises may involve a variety of techniques such as deep breathing, stretches, self release techniques, and other exercises that target the pelvic floor muscles. Establishing a routine for pelvic floor exercises can be beneficial, such as performing them before getting out of bed in the morning or before going to sleep at night. Alternatively, some individuals may choose to incorporate pelvic floor exercises into activities that may trigger urinary incontinence, such as sneezing or laughing, to help prevent leakage. Ultimately, the timing and selection of pelvic floor exercises depend on the individual’s needs and preferences.

It’s worth noting that not everyone will experience weakening of pelvic floor muscles due to a lack of exercise. However, the chances of developing related problems such as urinary incontinence, difficulty with bowel movements, and pelvic organ prolapse do increase with a weakened pelvic floor. To minimize the risk of these issues occurring, it’s essential to engage in regular pelvic floor exercises that help maintain the strength and function of these muscles.

Urinary incontinence can be managed effectively with the right treatment approach. Pelvic floor rehabilitation, including pelvic floor muscle training and other techniques, is a proven method for improving urinary incontinence symptoms. Additionally, lifestyle changes, such as dietary modifications and bladder training, can also help to reduce incontinence symptoms. In some cases, medication or surgery may be necessary to treat underlying conditions that contribute to urinary incontinence. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the best treatment approach for each individual case.

About Carmélie Cheff

I completed my Bachelor in Human Kinetics in 2013 followed by my Masters in Physiotherapy in 2015 at the University of Ottawa.

Since then, I have continued to expand my knowledge and abilities through various trainings in order to offer the best treatment to my clients. The trust and open communication I have with people as well as the quality of my interventions are my greatest priorities when offering my services. My interests vary from pelvic floor rehabilitation to orthopedics to post concussion rehabilitation.

Medical Disclaimer:

The information presented in this blog post is for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, treatment or a diagnosis, consult with a medical professional such as one suggested on this website. The Clinic Accelerator Inc. and the author of this page are not liable for the associated risks of using or acting upon the information contained in this article.

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