Isn’t the bladder an amazing organ?
The bladder and the urinary system are doing so much for us all the time and yet most of us don’t know much about them. For example, do you know that the bladder holds ~16 oz? You will never look at your Starbucks latte the same way again. Do you know that about 12 drops of urine enter your bladder every minute? Fun fact for parties. Look at how much you are leaning!
This means that your bladder is really never empty, but below about half full we don’t typically feel that there is something in our bladder. That is because the bladder is an accommodating vessel = the walls stretch to accommodate the fluid coming in. This keeps the pressure above (in the bladder) low and the pressure in the urethral sphincter and the pelvic floor high while we are storing urine (in between voids). When we decide to go, our nervous system tells the urinary sphincter to relax and the bladder to squeeze to expel the urine = you pee.
This is also why you don’t want to push down or try and “force urine out” or “speed up the process.” The bladder is contracting at a strong and steady speed and if you push down,
1) you may give yourself a prolapse (POP) or cause your bladder to move down from all the increased pressure,
2) you are trying to do the bladder’s job for it so overtime it may not squeeze well and you may retain urine, and
3) it's not good for your heart.
I know sounds strange but the Vagus nerve, also referred to as the fifth cranial nerve, begins in the brain and extends downward into the abdomen. This nerve supplies areas of the body such as the the heart and lungs, and various organs of the digestive system as well as the badder. It is also a part of the parasympathetic nervous system and when functioning properly it promotes sex drive, relaxation, peeing, pooping, etc. You have heard of the nervous system being in “fight/fight or rest/digest, well this is ideally part of your rest and digest. Now changing the activation of the nerve changes how it affects these systems. So pushing down to pee or poop (holding your breath and pushing) can cause changes activity in the Vagus nerve and increases your heart rate. So be kind to your bladder, give it time and let it do its amazing job!
One thing you can do to urinate well and keep your bladder happy is use good posture for urinating.
I am sure this is probably something you have never given much thought to but it can really help you maintain a great urinary system, avoid post void dribble, and keep your bladder healthy. Most people who sit to urinate do some version of a slouch. Rolled back, pelvis, head down, slumped posture and, more than most people want to admit if the research holds, a device in your hands (ummm...38% to 75%). Posterior pelvic tilt, or that rolled back way of sitting, increases pelvic floor muscle activity and the bodies natural reaction to activate or draw that area in = the opposite of relaxing or letting go. When you sit up, face front and gently hinge at the hips (not the back) leaning forward, And MOST importantly relax your abdomen and pelvic floor (NOT PUSHING or trying to increase the pressure), you not only create better alignment of your bladder and urethra but you are promoting a more optimal position for the pelvic floor to relax and allow your nervous system and bladder to do their job = IE squeeze your bladder strongly and consistently.
So gives this a try: sit in this posture, relaxing the abdomen and pelvic floor for at least 15 seconds, NOT pushing down. Many people get in a habit of trying to spend as little time in the bathroom as possible. Whether its jobs, kids, etc ...hence a lot of hovering, pushing or generally not even giving your poor bladder even 15 seconds to do its VITAL job. SO consider this a few seconds of meditation and mindfulness you get to do every couple of hours. And if that isn’t your jam think of it as prevention from greater bladder problems because it truly is. If you are having bladder issues or have questions about the bladder/optimal bladder function, contact me! @pelvicforward, pelvicforward on FB, or check out my YouTube channel.