We’ve all heard it when we were younger. Just think about that 4 hour drive to Grandma’s house. As you’re in your room packing your book bag with all the books and games you need to keep yourself occupied, you hear your Mom yell from the front door, “Make sure you try to go to the bathroom before we leave! We’re not stopping once we get on the road!” “But Mom, I don’t have to go!” “Well try to go anyway!”
I like to call it “JIC-ing” (pronounced “jicking”) for short. Going “just in case”. And it’s terrible for your bladder.
Even as adults we continue to “JIC”. You wake up and urinate first thing at 7am. Then you’re ready to leave for work at 7:30am, but you’re afraid you’re going to get stuck in traffic (you DO have a 30 minute commute without anyone on the road!) so you go to the bathroom, just in case. Once you get to work (30 minutes later because traffic wasn’t that bad), you don’t really have to urinate, but you have an hour long meeting coming up in 10 minutes and you don’t want to leave in the middle of it so you go to the restroom anyway, just in case.
Here’s the thing… your bladder takes about 3 hours to fill! So you really shouldn’t have to urinate until 3-4 hours after the most recent time.
Your bladder even begins to learn where you live! If you have a normal habit of going to the bathroom as soon as you get home (even if you don’t really need to go), you’re teaching your bladder bad habits. You may start to notice as your taking that last turn onto your street you start to get an urge to urinate. As you’re trying to get the key in the door, and you suddenly can hardly contain the need to go and have to rush to the restroom.
“JIC-ing” is not good for you or your bladder! A normal bladder can hold 400-600 ml, but when you “JIC”, you teach your bladder that it doesn’t have to stretch that far. After awhile of not stretching to its capacity, your bladder can no longer hold 3 hours of urine, and you may be feeling the urge to urinate as soon as every 30 minutes.
If any of the above sounds like you, or you’re going to the restroom every 30-60 minutes, you may need to begin retraining your bladder. The goal with bladder retraining is to decrease the frequency and urgency you feel and place you back in control of your bladder. When the rules of bladder retraining are followed, it is successful at least 85% of the time!
Bladder retraining is quite simple. For the first week during waking hours, use the restroom every 1 hour, whether you feel you need to urinate or not. If you feel the need to urinate before the hour mark follow these instructions: stand still, think of something besides the urge to urinate (completing your taxes, a list of chores you need to do, etc), and perform 5-6 pelvic floor contractions (Kegels).
The urge your feeling is just that, a feeling. As you become better at using these distraction techniques, the urge you feel will diminish and you will be able to make it to your scheduled time.
As 1 hour becomes easy and you are no longer feeling urinary urgency, increase your scheduled time to every 1.5 hours. Increase by 30 minutes every week until you are going to the restroom to urinate every 3-4 hours.
Woolah! You have just trained your bladder easier than you trained your puppy. You are now the boss of your bladder and no longer a “JIC-er”.
Brittany Deuso PT, DPT has received additional training in the McKenzie Method as well as Women’s Health Care for diagnoses including Urinary Incontinence, Pelvic Pain, and Pelvic Organ Prolapse.
Brittany holds Direct Access Certification and is available to evaluate and treat patients without a prescription from a physician.