5 Proven Bladder Control Training Tips and Techniques

bladder trainingBladder control training involves retraining the bladder to reduce the urge to empty the bladder as the bladder bladder fills. This free video teaches 5 simple strategies to help to reduce bladder urgency, help retrain the bladder and make it to the bathroom without bladder leakage.

This bladder control training video is presented by Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist Michelle Kenway. Michelle is the author of the internationally acclaimed guide to pelvic exercises Inside Out– the essential women’s guide to pelvic support along with Dr Judith Goh, Urogynaecologist.

Please scroll down to view ‘Bladder Control Training’

Bladder Control Training Video Contents

This short physiotherapist video teaches how to how to effectively use the following 5 bladder control training techniques to help calm your bladder to overcome urinary urgency and bladder leakage:

  1. Pelvic floor exercises (kegel exercises);
  2. Controlled breathing;
  3. Toe curling exercises;
  4. Pressure on the perineum; and
  5. How to get to the bathroom without leaking.

Who is ‘Bladder Control Training’ Suitable for?

This video is ideal for women who experience bladder frequency and bladder urgency (i.e. intense bladder spasm and overwhelming urge to empty their bladder). It provides the viewer with simple effective and practical strategies and bladder control exercises to overcome bladder urgency, retrain the bladder and stay dry.

Video duration: 4 minutes

Please scroll down below for further written information to assist bladder control training.

Note: to ensure smooth viewing of the video, it is recommended that you press on this play arrow and then when the video starts loading you press the ‘pause’ button until you can see that the entire video has loaded. This will help avoid the video stopping to load while you watch.

How Does Bladder Control Training Help?

Bladder control training is a process whereby the bladder becomes trained to stay relaxed during bladder filling. During this process of retraining, the bladder is trained to stay relaxed during filing rather than sending off the message that it needs to empty. The process of retraining can take quite a number of months and it usually involves a combination of exercises and techniques.

Elements of Bladder Control Training

  1. Ensuring  fluid intake is adequate with a steady intake of 1.5 to 2 litres throughout waking hours;
  2. Avoiding bladder irritants where possible e.g. caffeine, artificial sweeteners, spicy foods;
  3. Trying to defer the inappropriate urge to empty the bladder -for most women we should empty approximately 250-500 mls, every time we empty the bladder.
  4. Avoiding emptying the bladder ‘just in case’ wherever possible;
  5. Noting your particular bladder triggers such as placing your key in the door or cold rainy weather;
  6. Reducing evening fluid intake for women who suffer night time bladder problems- as your bladder volumes increase during the day, night time problems should decrease;
  7. Employing the urge control strategies outlined in this video to help defer the urge and increase bladder control; and
  8. Performing regular pelvic floor exercises to ensure that the pelvic floor muscles can be activated to help overcome bladder urgency.

Bladder control training is an effective method of overcoming the urgent need to empty the bladder and reducing bladder frequency during the day and night. It can take time to retrain your bladder. Seek the assistance of a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist or a Continence Nurse Advisor for assistance with your bladder control training program should you require further assistance.

Inside Out Book & DVDABOUT THE AUTHOR, Michelle Kenway

Michelle Kenway is a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist and author of Inside Out – the Essential Women’s Guide to Pelvic Support, along with Dr Judith Goh Urogynaecologist. The Inside Out exercise DVD and book show women how to strengthen the pelvic floor and exercise effectively with pelvic floor safe exercises.

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  1. Hi Michelle,
    You have done such a great job with this site & the videos – thank you very much. I’m a physio with a fair understanding of pelvic floor ex, but some of the tips are new to me & I feel they’ll be excellent for clients & friends, too. I do have one question. Although I think my PFM’s are working quite well (I have good sensation & the contractions seem quite strong & in the right direction), over the last couple of years (my age: 41) I’ve developed what feels like mild bladder urgency. It can happen even when my bladder isn’t very full – a sudden urge (like the bladder is contracting) & I to have to squeeze everything at 100% to not leak! It passes after ~15-20 seconds & I can then hang on for a while. I’m going to try some of those tips in your video, but just wondering what can cause this – is it something like a twitchy bladder?! I was also told many years ago when I was pregnant that I have a retroverted uterus – could that be relevant also? I had a good, smooth vaginal delivery without continence problems afterwards. I’m work on strengthening my PF in case that helps as well. Thanks, Michelle : )

    • How to manage urinary urgency

      Hi Louise

      Thanks so much for posting your comment and question on urinary urgency and for your kind feedback.

      Before discussing possible factors contributing to everyday urinary urgency, it is important to remember that urinary urgency can be caused by organic diseases e.g. multiple sclerosis and bladder tumours and it is important that this possibility is eliminated by a doctor always as a precaution.When disease has been exclude the term overactive bladder or OAB is used to describe urinary urgency. Overall this involves a decreased balance between the nervous system and the lower part of the urinary tract (bladder and urethra).

      There are many possible causes or urinary urgency with overactive bladder. Causes include:

      • Weakness in the pelvic floor muscles or impaired pelvic floor muscle function
      • Deconditioned voiding reflex from anxiety, emptying the bladder too frequently, childhood bladder problems
      • Disturbed balance between opening and closing of the urethra
      • Laxity in the anterior (front) vaginal wall
      • Irritability of the bladder muscle cells
      • Central nervous system changes causing bladder overactivity
      • The composition of the urine owing to intake of bladder irritants such as caffeine
      • The volume or amount of urine in the bladder

      How to manage urinary urgency associated with overactive bladder?

      1. Pelvic floor exercises
      2. Fluid modification where appropriate aiming to decrease intake of bladder irritants
      3. Bladder retraining to encourage the bladder to be able to store urine
      4. Stress management where appropriate
      5. General practitioner/urologist visit for medication to assist if appropriate

      Hope this helps provides you with some useful direction Louise, and yes as you say don’t undervalue the importance of your pelvic floor exercises in managing urinary urgency.


  2. Hi Michelle, I have had a bladder urgency problem since childhood. Your bladder control tips video is so helpful and it is the first time I have heard these tips. Your website is a truly wonderful resource which I so appreciate. I am looking forward to reading your book. Best wishes, Jilly

    • Thanks so much Jilly. I hope these tips really help you. Bladder urgency is such a troublesome complaint, I feel for you having experienced it since a young age.

      Good luck and best wishes Michelle

  3. Hi Michelle, I have many questions for you regarding pelvic floor function/dysfunction and incontinence. I am a pilates instructor with 3 years teaching experience and did not realise that many of the exercises in the pilates repertoire were inappropriate for women with pelvic floor dysfunction until Ideveloped urge incontinence myself and came across your site and viewed your training videos. I have been seeing a physiotherapist for this condition and she has put me on a program of pelvic floor exercises.She initially did an internal examination but I have no sensation of her fingers inside my vagina what so ever and cannot even feel my pelvic floor contractions when she is examining me in this way. Is this cause for extra alarm? When I try doing pelvic floor contractions at home I feel like I am doing them correctly getting better contractions when sitting or standing than when lying. Is this an indication that I may not be doing them correctly since these 2 positions would be more advanced? I also feel more of a contraction around the anal area than I do through the urethra. Is it important to feel the contractions equally both front and back? Also do the pelvic floor muscles work synergistically with TrA? My physiotherapist also feels that I switch on my internal obliques before I switch on my pelvic floor. I understand that this may be inappropriate sequencing but when first starting out does it really matter so long as I am getting a contraction(rectus abdominus is relaxed)?
    As a pilates instructor how do I know if a client is activating pelvic floor and Tr A correctly when performing many of the exercises; esp. the abdominal exercises( if a client cannot maintain neutral spine and their abdomen bulges is that a fair indication that the exercise is too difficult)? Sorry to bombard you with so many questions but I am starting to question many of the concepts that were taught to me during my pilates training and need to clarify these issues if I am to instruct other people and also get my own pelvic floor dysfunction under control.I will leave it at this for now but I have so many more questions for you. Thank you for your time and hope to hear from you soon, Michele

    • Pelvic Exercises says

      Hi Michele
      Thanks so much for all these insightful questions.
      Yes as you have discovered Pilates exercises can be very intense and if the pelvic floor cannot withstand the associated downward pressure problems can eventuate such as prolapse, incontinence, urgency and pelvic pain.
      To response your questions…
      1. Many women are unable to feel their pelvic floor muscles working at all even with internal assistance. This is very common especially is the pelvic nerves have been damaged during childbirth which can affect sensation and pelvic floor muscle control. Everyone has their own unique medical history and so I am unable to comment on this with respect your situation.
      2. Great if you can feel your contractions more in upright, yes this is more advanced but different women find pelvic floor or kegel exercises easier in different positions. If you can exercise them well upright then this is the position you need them to work functionally for you so this is great.
      3. You mention that you cannot feel the pelvic floor exercises vaginally so it is not at all surprising you feel them more rectally. Go with what you can feel. Remember the pelvic floor muscles suspend across the base of the pelvis and encircle the vagina and the rectum. Many women find it useful to get their feedback rectally. It may well be that you never feel really strong pelvic floor contractions vaginally. This does not indicate that all your pelvic floor muscles are not working.
      4. Do TA and pelvic floor work synergistically? Yes and no…some studies have shown that in some women (who have never had vaginal deliveries) these muscles work together however other studies suggest that in fact this is not the case. Unfortunately some women assume that by activating their deep abdominal muscles they will automatically contract their pelvic floor muscles. This is not the case always and if these women continue to do this, their pelvic floor can be forced downwards by the pressure associated with their abdominal contractions and their problems can become worse. The only way of knowing if you or a client is activating both groups of muscles is by using real time ultrasound assessment or by feeling what both muscle groups are doing which would obviously require a pelvic floor physiotherapist consultation. If the pelvic floor is an issue, focus on training the pelvic floor muscles. You just cannot assume a patient is contracting her pelvic floor muscles from external cues.
      Hope this gives you some information to help you Michele. I think the key is to identify those of your clients who may be at risk of pelvic floor dysfunction when you first assess them eg new mums, traumatic deliveries, forceps, large babies, menopause and beyond, prolapse, previous gynae surgery including hysterectomy, overweight, chronic cough, chronic constipation, history of intense core exercise, family history of pelvic floor problems, incontinence issues just to name a few. Then educate these women about the dangers of intense core exercise and avoid intense Pilates exercises with these ladies.
      Cheers Michelle Kenway