How To Treat Stress Incontinence While Exercising
In order to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, it is necessary to contract them properly, and train them to be strong enough to withstand the forces that your activity demands from your body.
There are many ways to do a Kegel, however if you are leaking urine, it is important to strengthen the muscles specifically around the urethra.
This is done by imagining that the urethra is a telescope, and you want to pull that telescope up and into your body. Do not contract the gluteal muscles .
You should feel the contraction similar to the action of shutting off the flow of urine. Practice isolating these muscles while lying down, sitting, and standing. Begin by holding the contraction for 5 seconds, for 10 repetitions, 3 times per day.
When To Seek Medical Advice
See a GP if you have any type of urinary incontinence. Urinary incontinence is a common problem and you should not feel embarrassed talking to them about your symptoms.
This can also be the first step towards finding a way to effectively manage the problem.
Urinary incontinence can usually be diagnosed after a consultation with a GP, who will ask about your symptoms and may do a pelvic or rectal examination, depending on whether you have a vagina or a penis.
The GP may also suggest you keep a diary in which you note how much fluid you drink and how often you have to urinate.
Find out about diagnosing urinary incontinence.
How To Do Kegel Exercises
To get started:
- Find the right muscles.To identify your pelvic floor muscles, stop urination in midstream. If you succeed, you’ve got the right muscles. Once you’ve identified your pelvic floor muscles you can do the exercises in any position, although you might find it easiest to do them lying down at first.
- Perfect your technique.Tighten your pelvic floor muscles, hold the contraction for five seconds, and then relax for five seconds. Try it four or five times in a row. Work up to keeping the muscles contracted for 10 seconds at a time, relaxing for 10 seconds between contractions.
- Maintain your focus.For best results, focus on tightening only your pelvic floor muscles. Be careful not to flex the muscles in your abdomen, thighs or buttocks. Avoid holding your breath. Instead, breathe freely during the exercises.
- Repeat three times a day.Aim for at least three sets of 10 repetitions a day.
Don’t make a habit of using Kegel exercises to start and stop your urine stream. Doing Kegel exercises while emptying your bladder can actually lead to incomplete emptying of the bladder which increases the risk of a urinary tract infection.
So dont be embarrassed if this is something that happens to you, youre not alone and there are more people with that issue than you think!
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Is Incontinence More Common In Women
Incontinence is much more commonly seen in women than in men. A large part of this is because of pregnancy, childbirth and menopause. Each of these events in a womans life can lead to bladder control issues. Pregnancy can be a short-term cause of incontinence and the bladder control issues typically get better after the baby is born. Some women experience incontinence after delivery because of the strain childbirth takes on the pelvic floor muscles. When these muscles are weakened, youre more likely to experience leakage issues. Menopause causes your body to go through a lot of change. Your hormones change during menopause and this can alter your bladder control.
Men can also experience incontinence, but it isnt as common as it is in women.
Visit The Ladies Room Before Exercise
This might seem like common sense but paying attention to your bladder and stopping by the toilet just before you start your fitness routine can make a big difference in controlling leaks. Sometimes a weak pelvic floor or other bladder conditions can make it hard to know if youve emptied your bladder fully.
To make sure youre getting as much urine out as you can, try double voiding: urinate until it feels like you are done, stand up, and sit down to urinate again. You may want to avoid drinking too much before exercising, while still taking caution to stay hydrated limiting your water intake during exercise is not only unpleasant but also dangerous for your health.
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Maintain A Healthy Weight
Staying a healthy weight can make an enormous difference, reducing pressure on the bladder. A study in 2009 found that losing weight reduces incontinence in individuals who are overweight or obese. In a trial funded by the National Institutes of Health, moderate weight loss in a group of heavy women who undertook a diet and exercise program cut the frequency of incontinence episodes by nearly a half. After six months, women in one of the groups had lost an average of 17 pounds and had 47% fewer incontinence episodes. Healthcare experts assert that losing just 5% to 10% of your weight can result in a marked improvement in people with bladder leakage issues. Losing weight should be on of your first lines of defence when it comes to a solution for urinary incontinence.
How Running Affects The Pelvic Floor
Running has many benefits but how does it affect your pelvic floor health? Studies into the effect of marathon running on the pelvic floor are relatively few, but studies suggest that just over 30% of non-professional female marathon runners experience stress urinary incontinence or as much as 50% of active women. So at least one in every three female runners will experience pelvic floor issues at some point. Eeek!
When women experience incontinence they often reduce their activity levels around half resort to using pads and many are simply unaware of the available treatments.
But isnt it just women whove had babies that get stress incontinence? No. Women who havent had children and even elite athletes may also experience bladder control issues. The amount and type of training you do has a direct effect on potential pelvic floor dysfunction, with high impact activity having an almost five-fold impact on incontinence symptoms. Its not reserved for older women either, as SUI in early life is a strong predictor of incontinence in later life.
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Anatomy Of The Pelvic Floor
To understand these misconceptions, we need to first understand how our body is made. Your pelvic floor muscles are like a hammock for your bladder and uterus that run from your pubic bone, through your rectum, to your tailbone, and between your hip bones. For mother runners, that trampoline can get stretched and affected by carrying a baby around for 9 months.
Sometimes the muscles are weakened by the load of pregnancy. Other times, our pelvic floor muscles are too overactive, clenching all the time, and eventually, giving way for a deluge. In some cases, the tissue is laxer due to changing hormone levels and genetics which impacts collagen and ligament laxity levels. Finally, the bigger openingahemdown there after childbirth can play a role.
Emily Infeld: Loss Of Bladder Control Is No Big Deal
Emily Infeld, the 2015 10,000m World Championship bronze medallist, spurred a conversation on social media on Monday. The Bowerman Track Club runner recently ran her first race after returning from an injury, and in an Instagram post addressed an issue that plagues many female runnersloss of bladder control.
Infelds post-race caption was, You know its love when you peed your pants at the end of the race and you havent showered, but he isnt even grossed out to be near you. Her caption is funny, but loss of bladder control is a much-discussed issue among female athletes, and a source of shame for some.
I love Emily Infeld taking the stigma away here. When I coached HS XC, the girls had a club for anyone who lost bladder control during a race . It made them feel more normal when it happened, which made them a heck of a lot more likely to stay in the sport.
Infeld had a hip surgeryactually the same surgery as former Canadian marathon record-holder Lanni Marchant, back in January.
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Why Do I Leak Urine During My Workouts
Bladder leakage during your workout is due to a condition called Stress Urinary Incontinence . SUI is incontinence that occurs when you have a weak pelvic floor or sphincter muscle, and increased pressure is placed on your bladder. This can happen with things like sneezing, coughing, and, yes, certain forms of working out.
SUI occurs commonly with childbirth, but other conditions can also contribute to the condition. Chronic coughing, surgical procedures, menopause, and obesity can also contribute to SUI.
Is It Normal To Pee Yourself While Running
Although it is not normal to pee yourself while running, it is more common than you think.
Most adults will shy away from talking about their bladder leak problems, but it is VERY common.
Around 51% of surveyed women experience incontinence while running.
Most of the women surveyed had never even given birth, meaning their pelvic floor has never been damaged because of pregnancy or childbirth.
So why does it happen, arent runners supposed to be strong?
You may have strong legs, but your smaller muscles are sometimes neglected so, why do you pee when you run? Lets look at what research says.
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To Find Out If Your Pelvic Floor Is Overactive:
Does it hurt to insert a tampon or have sex? If you answered yes, those are signs your pelvic floor muscles are too tense. Another way to find out is to insert two fingers inside your vaginal opening and squeeze your muscles like you are holding in gas . You will feel the muscles close in around your fingers and lift them inside. Then release. If you dont feel the muscles retract, then your pelvic floor muscles are overactive. You can also try a Kegel and if you dont feel much difference between contraction/relaxation theres a strong possibility your muscles might be overactive.
What Do You Mean By Pelvic Floor Muscles
The pelvic floor is a system of muscles, ligaments and connective tissues that create a sling to support pelvic organs. These muscles are important for control of bowel and bladder function, sexual appreciation, breathing, and core stability. In a normal functioning pelvic floor, the reflexive action prevents leaking during impact or changes in intra abdominal pressure such as during a sneeze, cough, or laugh. A normal pelvic floor also relaxes when you inhale, is not painful with intercourse, and has no loss of bladder or bowel control.
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What Steps Can I Take At Home To Treat Urinary Incontinence
Your doctor or nurse may suggest some things you can do at home to help treat urinary incontinence. Some people do not think that such simple actions can treat urinary incontinence. But for many women, these steps make urinary incontinence go away entirely, or help leak less urine. These steps may include:
You can also buy pads or protective underwear while you take other steps to treat urinary incontinence. These are sold in many stores that also sell feminine hygiene products like tampons and pads.
Making Too Much Urine
Your childs kidneys may make too much urine overnight, leading to an overfull bladder. If your child doesnt wake up in time, a wet bed is likely. Often this excess urine at night is due to low levels of a natural substance called antidiuretic hormone . ADH tells the kidneys to release less water at night.
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As Stress Incontinence Threatened To End Samanthas Running Career She Sought Answers And Solutions From Dr Karlotta Davis
As a long distance runner, Samantha had found her stride in both half and full distance marathons, competing a few times a year. After she had given birth to her first child, however, Samantha considered changing her course.
For the Denver-area nurse, running was made difficult when urinary stress incontinence the leaking of urine when one sneezes, coughs or exercises became routine on her daily runs.
It was very embarrassing and I wasnt really sure that I could talk with anyone about it. I had assumed it was something that would just go away on its own. says Samathna.
During birth, a womans pelvic floor the structure that supports the uterus, bowel and bladder is altered and stretched to allow her babys head to pass out of the womb and through the vagina. This process can weaken the pelvic floor, making sex less satisfying, causing pelvic organ prolapse or become a source of stress incontinence.
A third of all postpartum women, like Samantha, experience urinary stress incontinence. This happens because the urethra lies on a hammock of ligaments and muscle. If this hammock is stretched, urethral compression weakens and leaks can occur.
I told my doctor about my condition and the fact that I had leaked urine nearly every time I went for a run. She had suggested that I use a pessary, but that wasnt entirely effective. I also tried a tampon when I ran, but that only worked for a time as my condition continued to get worse, Samantha notes.
You Could Actually Stop The Leaks
So now that you know why youre leaking when you run, what exactly can you do about it? Well first and foremost, the health of your pelvic floor is of utmost importance. Your pelvic floor includes all the muscles that control your bladder, urethra, vagina, etc. so exercises like kegels that can help strengthen it are essential. But doing them right is even more important than doing them at all. We strongly recommend having a health care provider explain the correct way to do a kegel, as many women think they are doing them correctly but in fact are not. Pelvic floor exercises can help with the duration and severity of bladder leaks, and are your best bet of getting rid of them for good.
However, while you are working on improving your pelvic floor strength there are things you can do so you can get back to running and stay dry.
Finess is a new over-the-counter product that actually stops leaks before they happen. Its a soft, small foam patch that gently adheres over your urethra to stop leaks while you run. Why deal with wet underwear or wet pads when you can stay dry completely? While theres no better feeling than finishing a run in record time, finishing with dry underwear is probably a close second.
Get more information on Finess and see if its a good fit for you at www.havefiness.com. If youd like to try Finess, use the 15% off to Womens Running readers using code WRM15 at checkout. Not applicable to subscription orders.
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Why Does Pregnancy Cause Incontinence
During pregnancy, your body goes through a lot of physical changes. As your uterus stretches to hold the growing baby, a few things happen. Your bladder can be squished by the expanding baby, making your bladder hold less than before. You might experience an increased urgency to pee during pregnancy because your bladder cannot hold as much as before. This might become even more challenging towards the end of pregnancy when the baby is at its largest.
Another reason for incontinence during pregnancy is the weakening of your pelvic floor muscles. These muscles are the support structures for all of the organs in your pelvis. During pregnancy, they can be stretched and weakened as your uterus expands.
Exercise And Stress Urinary Incontinence
Stress urinary incontinence, the type of incontinence that most often causes leaks during exercise, is characterized by involuntary leakage of urine because of activity like coughing, jumping, or lifting that increases pressure in your abdomen.
Exercise, particularly high impact sports like basketball and running, also has this effect, which can put pressure on your bladder and urethra. Your pelvic floor responsible for supporting your pelvic organs should usually help keep your bladder sphincter closed.
However, if its weak or damaged, your pelvic floor doesnt function as well and some urine might leak out. However, there are steps you can take to prevent leaks not just manage the symptoms with pads and dark clothing:
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Pelvic Floor Muscles Coordination Routine For Runners With Overactive Pelvic Floor Muscles:
If your pelvic floor muscles are overactive, try low belly breaths. Here is how you do it:
Low belly breathing tips
- Do 5-minutes of low belly breaths that expand your ribs like a pufferfish to relax the muscles at bedtime and then a breath throughout the day.
- Pay attention to your breath throughout the day.
- Make sure you arent holding your breath or breathing in your upper chest/holding tension when you dont need to be. These activities increase the pressure downward and make the brain want to counter that pressure with activity from the pelvic floor muscles .
Sometimes symptoms change with breathing alone because youre making the pelvic floor muscles more available. However, you may also need to train your breathing through dynamic hopping as well as working to strengthen your core and hips through the above exercises mentioned for underactive pelvic floor muscles.
Myths About Our Pelvic Floor
First things first, Carrie wants to dispel a few myths out there about leaking while running.
- Leaking while running does not mean you have a weak pelvic floor.
- If you do have a weak pelvic floor, it is not dangerous. It does not mean you are destined for pelvic organ prolapse. The contributing factors to that are much more complicated.
- Kegels are not always the answer or ever enough.
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