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Bladder Habits, Leaky Bladder, Incontinence, Pelvic Floor Health, Women's Pelvic Health, Women's Health, Physical Therapist Near Me, Physical Therapy, Pt, I'move, Imove, Michigan

Bathroom Practices Part One: Bladder Habits

By Dr. Brooke Meinema, DPT, FAFS

While many people don’t commonly have open discussions about anything they do in the bathroom, understanding good bathroom habits can be very helpful! So let’s dive in!

Just In Case:

Sometimes dealing with bladder issues such as leaking, burning, or difficulty initiating the flow of urine can be addressed by changing your mindset around the bathroom. First things first: the “Just In Case” pee. Going to the bathroom “just in case” trains our bladder to feel the urge to urinate every time there is even a little bit of fluid in them. Our bladders have receptors in them, and if these receptors are told to void once they have a little bit of fluid in them, every time they have a little bit of fluid they tell your brain you have to go even if you really could wait much longer. This leads to you feeling the urge to go to the bathroom every time you have even a little bit of urine making you feel like you have to go constantly. Ideally, you should urinate 6-8 times a day and only 0-1 times at night. If you find yourself going to the bathroom more than that, stopping yourself from going “just in case” is a great place to start. If this doesn’t seem to be enough, ask a pelvic floor therapist for individualized help!

Bladder Hesitancy:

Having a difficult time initiating the flow of urine, or having it where it feels like you start and stop and start and stop when urinating, can indicate pelvic floor dysfunction. This can be a sign that your pelvic floor muscles are overly tight or having a hard time shutting down. Our pelvic floor muscles work in harmony with our bladders: if our muscles are squeezing, they tell the bladder to hold in the urine; when our bladder contracts to push the urine out, our pelvic floor muscles need to relax to allow the urine to pass. If this harmony is disrupted and our pelvic floor muscles cannot shut down to allow the urine to flow, it can give your bladder the wrong cue and not allow it to empty. Focusing on relaxing the muscles in your pelvic floor and taking a nice deep breath can sometimes help, but sometimes it will take a bit more work and professional help to reduce the tension in those muscles and help the coordination with the bladder.


Some people will start to reduce how much they drink if they are experiencing urinary frequency or leaks, but this will often backfire. Our urine is quite acidic, and when we don’t drink enough water, our urine becomes even more acidic. Our bladders do not like holding in the acidic fluid for very long and will create the urge to get rid of it, which can lead to even more issues with frequency, leaking, burning with urination, and increased risk of UTI or bladder infections. That being said, increasing the amount of water you drink dramatically in a short period can make you have to go and go and go. Just like you wouldn’t train for a distance event by just starting out running 5 miles one day, you need to ease your way into how much water you are putting in your system. Increasing your water intake gradually to allow your bladder time to strengthen and get used to the new fluid levels can save you some time spent running to the bathroom.

Key in the door phenomenon:

Do you ever have it where you are about to enter your house and have the intense urge to urinate? Or even think about using a toilet and find yourself struggling not to leak? Over time we condition our brains to associate certain tasks with urinating making our body really focus on getting to the bathroom quickly and struggling to fight against it. Reminding your bladder who is in charge in those moments can be helpful. Think: Freeze, Squeeze, Breathe.

  1. Freeze: stop what you are doing
  2. Squeeze: give a quick squeeze of your pelvic floor (think Kegels here)
  3. Breathe: take a nice deep breath

Going through these steps can help reduce the stress response that can lead to leaks and give the bladder the cue that the pelvic floor is still active and in charge as to not let the urine flow.

Some of this can be overwhelming and difficult to sift through. If you feel you need more help in addressing your specific needs, don’t hesitate to reach out! Our women’s health physical therapists are always happy to talk through your specific needs and set you on the right path. For a free 10-minute consultation, visit us at and fill out the form to contact a Women’s Health Physical Therapist and schedule your consultation.

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