The Water Challenge – A PT’s Perspective

 

The Water Challenge Blog

We are ready to accept challenges for better health habits, but are we really ready for better health?

I’ve been invited to participate in all sorts of health challenges. Most of them start with a good health habit and then get gradually more challenging. The most recent challenge I was invited to join was known as a water challenge. You may have heard of it, or maybe even participated. Well, challenge accepted.

My current “drinking habits” consist of just water. I don’t even like ice water. I like filtered, room temperature water. When I “matured” (I laugh at that thought, haha) I started venturing into the world of warmer drinks like non-caffeinated, non-sweetened herbal tea – pinkies up and everything! In most of these challenges, it counts as water. Yay, I knew I could do it!

During this water challenge, what surprised me the most was the discussions that arose consistently in every group I kept up with, no matter what program the group was following. Some would complain about needing to pee more followed by jokes about doing more kegels, and then there would be others labeling themselves as incontinent when they leaked after holding it in for hours. As a pelvic floor physical therapist, my cyber ears perked up. Everybody was ready to drink half their body weight in ounces but not a lot of people thought about the fact that they will be frequenting the bathroom.

The bladder starts to signal the brain that you need to use the bathroom when it is about 250-300 ml full. That is roughly a little more than a cup; it’s not a lot! By the time it fills to about 2 cups, you simply should go to the bathroom. If we are downing 20oz water bottles at a time, be prepared to use the bathroom once or twice for every bottle of water you consume. Don’t be surprised if you are going every 2-4 hrs. This will take time and preparation. If you are in a minivan full of kids under the age of 5 who like to put their hands in everything and the restroom at the gas station is nasty, do you have a plan B? Holding it isn’t the best answer.

There is a stretch reflex that goes on in the bladder and a dozen automatic connections go up to the brain. We don’t even think about it because it is such an efficient function of the body. It is our lifestyle and priorities that often cause different signals to shut off. No amount of pelvic floor exercises is going to hold an extreme amount of water for an extended length of time. The next time you worry that using the bathroom is going to wake the baby or your spouse, think about the signals your body is using to tell you to go. Think about the bladder infection and incontinence issues you will have if you continue to ignore those signals. And then go use the bathroom!  

We need to stop thinking of going to the bathroom as an inconvenience but something that is healthy and awesome! Don’t we celebrate when our kids use the potty? Celebrate how your own body is wonderfully designed!

I am glad that we are responding to challenges that make better health habits but we really need to allow our bodies to respond to these new habits. It’s not just about meeting a certain quota on a health challenge for three days. It is about planning to be successful in forming good long term health habits in all aspects of our lives.

With that in mind, if you still think you have issues with your pelvic floor, there is hope. Incontinence is a real issue and not one that you have to just “live with.” There is a high correlation between the core muscles and pelvic floor issues and The Tummy Team has had a lot of success helping people in this area. Don’t wait any longer to address these issues. Restore your core, relieve your pain and reclaim your true self!

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