If you’re deep breathing several times a day to prevent or treat leaky bladder, you may be working out needlessly.
A study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine finds there’s not much proof that abdominal hypopressive technique (AHT) works.
The technique involves breathing in deeply through the diaphragm, contracting the abdominal muscles after exhaling, and holding your breath before relaxing. AHT is different from Kegels, which are still thought to help.
As for AHT, it may be pointless for urinary incontinence.
“At present, there is no scientific evidence to recommend its use to patients,” Kari Bo, of the Norwegian School of Sport Science in Oslo, and Saul Martin-Rodriguez, from the College of Physical Education in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain, said in a statement.
“To date, AHT lacks scientific evidence to support its benefits,” they said. “At this stage, AHT is based on a theory with 20 years of clinical practice.”
The question is, then, what does work to prevent or treat leaky bladder?
Elizabeth Kavaler, MD, a urologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City who looked at the study, said that Kegels can help.
In an interview, she said that AHT may not help to prevent prolapse and incontinence, but Kegels and other pelvic floor muscle exercises can.
Still haven’t mastered the Kegel? Just hold your muscles as if you’re trying to stop peeing and then relax them again.
Kavaler said that managing your diet and weight, along with exercising and practicing Kegels are the best way to avoid having surgery for incontinence.
Carolyn Thompson, MD, a gynecologist from Tennessee, told HelloFlo that Kegel exercises and other pelvic floor muscle exercises are meant to treat stress urinary incontinence, which happens when the bladder support system fails. Kegels are also somewhat helpful in urinary urgency with incontinence, which occurs when the bladder contracts when you don’t want it to. She said that loss of large volumes or urine or severe bladder prolapse are less likely to be fully corrected by simply doing Kegels.
That said, she does recommend Kegels for patients with mild incontinence who have minimal pelvic floor defects, and for pregnant patients prior to delivering.
“The literature has demonstrated that Kegels are effective in treating both stress and urge urinary incontinence,” she added.