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The Oov - Exercise Intervention for Urinary Incontinence

Pilates is used worldwide as an effective treatment for various health conditions that are experienced within the general population. At any.BODY Studio we use a range of Pilates equipment, such as the Oov, to support people to find improvements in strength and mobility to manage acute and chronic conditions.

Firstly, What is the Oov?

The Oov is a tool, made out of durable foam, that allows you to find new strategies to control your movement by challenging your balance and stability. The curves of the Oov are designed to lengthen the spine and to destabilize the body; it puts the body in a position where it is never at rest

Recent research has emphasised the use of the Pilates Oov as a highly beneficial exercise intervention for improving symptoms in individuals experiencing urinary incontinence. Urinary incontinence is the accidental or involuntary loss of urine from the bladder and affects up to 10% of Australian men and 38% of Australian women. It is therefore important that we recognise it as a condition which impacts the lives of many people, and we should not be embarrassed to seek help.

Types of Urinary Incontinence 

There are two main types of urinary incontinence; these being urge incontinence and stress incontinence.  Urge incontinence is associated with a sudden and strong need to urinate, often followed by a loss of urine before reaching the bathroom. It becomes more prevalent as we age and can intensify in times of stress or after consumption of coffee and alcohol. On the other hand, stress incontinence is related to the leaking of urine during activities such as coughing, laughing, and exercising. It is often linked to conditions such as diabetes, obesity, or chronic cough (bronchitis/asthma).

Urinary Incontinence is experienced by both men and women. Women may be at higher risk with pregnancy or following childbirth as the pelvic floor muscles become stretched and weakened from carrying the foetus. Menopause can also increase symptoms as a reduction in oestrogen leads to thinning of the urethral lining. However, it is not uncommon for men to also develop symptoms following procedures such as prostate surgery.

Using Exercise as an intervention for Urinary Incontinence 

Urinary Incontinence symptoms can have a significant impact on our day-to-day life, so it is essential that we do not ignore the problem and are actively seeking treatment to improve quality of life. Urinary incontinence is commonly managed through exercise interventions which increase the strength, endurance, power, and relaxation of the pelvic floor muscles. Learning how to activate your pelvic floor muscles will allow them to strengthen during exercise, and in turn provide increased support to the bladder and urethra to hold back the urge to pass urine until a convenient moment. Overtime you will experience reduced urgency to urinate, be able to hold urine in the bladder for longer and pass more urine when you do go to the toilet.

The Oov is an excellent tool used at the studio for the management of urinary incontinence symptoms. It is a self-regulating feedback device, and its unique shape is used to place the spine in an optimal position for facilitating increased activation of core and pelvic floor muscles. The device requires users to make continuous micro-adjustments in order to maintain movement control, limiting the ability to compensate. It can be used in variety of positions to achieve a range of benefits and may be utilised in conjunction with other equipment such as the reformer for added value.

A recent study identified that 8 weeks of Pilates using the Oov helped to reduce urinary incontinence symptoms in females. This was achieved as the exercises helped to increase mobilisation of the pelvic floor muscles, which provide assistance to the bladder and consequently improve control of urination. The exercises used in this study are able to be easily implemented into your classes at the studio and you may already be familiar with variations of them, such as tabletop. If you believe these exercises may be of assistance to you in the management of your symptoms, do not hesitate to contact us at the studio, as we are more than happy to help.