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Interstitial cystitis is a chronic condition that causes long-term pelvic floor problems that affect the bladder and the muscles in the pelvic floor area. The most common symptoms are: 

  • Urgent and constant need to urinate
  • Pain in the abdominal area
  • Pain in your pelvic floor area
  • Frequent urination
  • Infections
  • Pain during and after sex

Luckily, interstitial cystitis can be treated with pelvic floor therapy, and there are also several pelvic floor exercises you can perform at home and reduce the intensity of your symptoms.

Exercise 1: Lift and Extend

  • Lay on the floor with your hands and palms faced down. Keep your feet on the ground.
  • Draw the pelvic floor up and lower your abdominal area (stomach) towards the floor.
  • Inhale and lift your right hand. Exhale.
  • Inhale and bend your knee. Exhale.
  • Put your knee on the floor.
  • Repeat with your left leg.

Exercise 2: Diaphragm Breathing

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  • Find a comfortable position. You can stand, lie flat on the floor, or sit on a chair. Make sure your shoulders are relaxed. 
  • Next, put one hand on your stomach and one hand on your chest.
  • Breathe in and feel the air moving towards your abdominal area.
  • Take a second to feel how your stomach extends. 
  • Your chest area should remain still while your stomach should move outwards.
  • Press your stomach gently with your hand and exhale.
  • Repeat at least 10 times.

Exercise 3: Rib-stretch Breathing 

  • Stand on the floor and arch your back.
  • Let all your breath out.
  • Now inhale slowly. Breathe in through your nose until you can’t inhale anymore.
  • Now, hold your breath for about 10 seconds.
  • Breathe out.
  • Repeat three times.

Exercise 4: Leg Slides 

  • Lie on the floor with your feet on the ground.
  • Raise your hands and place your arms so they are facing the ceiling.
  • Inhale and slide your right leg away. Move your hands behind your back towards the floor at the same time. 
  • Exhale and raise your hands once again towards the ceiling.
  • Inhale and slide your left leg away. Move your hands towards the floor at the same time.
  • Exhale and raise your hands towards the ceiling.
  • Repeat at least 10 times.

Exercise 5: Kegel

  • Find a comfortable position. You can stand, lie flat on the floor, or sit on a chair. Make sure your bladder is empty.
  • Relax and visualize the muscles that can stop urine flow (your pelvic floor muscles).
  • Tighten your pelvic floor muscles.
  • Hold tight for about 3 seconds.
  • Relax your pelvic floor muscles. Pause for 3 seconds and repeat.
  • Repeat this exercise 10 times, 3 times a day. 

When you perform Kegels, you need to breathe deeply. It’s also vital that you tighten your pelvic floor muscles instead of tightening your buttocks, stomach, or thighs, which is a common mistake. 

In order to find the right muscles to perform a kegel, you can try to stop your urine flow next time you visit the bathroom. If you manage to start and then stop, you have tightened your pelvic floor muscles.

Can Pelvic Floor Exercises Help Interstitial Cystitis?

Yes, pelvic floor exercise can help interstitial cystitis. 

Pelvic floor therapy is a vital part of every IC recovery treatment. Pelvic floor professionals examine every patient diagnosed with IC and develop a special treatment for every patient depending on the particular set of symptoms they are experiencing. Pelvic floor professionals usually take a whole-body, holistic approach to treat interstitial cystitis that includes exercises and a daily routine. This type of treatment plays a vital role in reducing the pain that patients diagnosed with this condition experience in their daily life. It’s also worth noting that pelvic floor therapy is recommended by the American Urological Association (AUA) as the first-line medical treatment for overactive bladder and interstitial cystitis.

All patients can take a pelvic exam so professionals can determine the intensity and frequency of the bladder pain, as well as whether the pelvic floor muscles are tightened or clenched. 

Keep in mind that interstitial cystitis can affect male and female patients across the age spectrum. Teenagers are as likely to experience infections and frequent urination as people who are well into their 60s and 70s.

Is Exercise Good for Interstitial Cystitis?

Yes, exercise is good for treating interstitial cystitis. When you move your body, you release endorphins, which are nature’s painkillers. Most pelvic floor professionals recommend taking short walks and swimming. Water aerobics is also another great option for reducing pelvic pain because some exercises are safer when performed in water. 

However, it’s also very important that you take it easy and not put too much pressure on the bladder by doing excessive amounts of exercise because, in some cases, this can make the symptoms worse.