Living with incontinence can pose many challenges. The condition can cause you to limit the life you once had - foregoing social events, distancing yourself from family and friends, and even missing days of work. So, it comes as no surprise that your workouts may also be affected. In fact, studies have shown that up to 20% of women have reported quitting their physical activities due to incontinence. Experiencing leakage when running or doing certain types of exercise is very common, but it’s not normal. You shouldn’t have to live with incontinence, and the good news is you don’t have to.
Why do I leak urine during my workouts?
Bladder leakage during your workout is due to a condition called Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI). 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.
How To Manage Bladder Leakage During Exercise
The tips listed below can help you manage and treat the issue of bladder leaks. As always, when thinking about treatment options, it’s best to consult a trained physical therapist that can give you a proper examination.
1. Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor.
A weak pelvic floor can make you more susceptible to SUI. To learn how to strengthen it, make an appointment with a physical therapist who will teach you not only how to correctly perform a kegel, but also how to strengthen your whole core. You see, while the pelvic floor is important, it’s only one part of the equation. Your core muscles, hips, thighs, and glutes all play a part of maintaining proper alignment so it’s important to include these muscles in your daily workouts too.
Your PT will also teach you how to properly relax your pelvic floor. Pelvic floor muscles that are too tight can also be an issue with SUI, so you must learn to relax these muscles as well.
2. Use a Pessary.
SUI often occurs in women who have experienced Pelvic Organ Prolapse. A pessary can be a great tool for this condition, especially when working out, since it helps hold everything in place, resulting in less pressure on your bladder.
3. Use Protection.
It goes without saying that if you’re experiencing leaks and want to continue to work out, you may need a little extra help. There are several absorbent products available that are designed specifically for working out. Experiment with different styles and fits to see what works for you.
4. Go Easy On The Fluids.
You should make sure you stay properly hydrated, but try limiting the amount of caffeinated beverages you’re drinking, especially before your workout. Caffeine can irritate the bladder making accidents more likely.
5. Watch What You Eat.
Similar to caffeine, certain foods can cause bladder irritation in some people. Spicy or acidic foods are especially common bladder irritants and should be avoided.
6. Empty Your Bladder Before Starting Your Workout.
Make sure to use the bathroom just before any strenuous workout, like running to avoid extra strain on your bladder.
7. Try Retraining Your Bladder
Just like any muscle in the body, your bladder can be trained. Try scheduling your bathroom visits in intervals and slowly work up to longer stretches of time.
8. Wear Black Pants.
This is a simple trick, but can help you prevent (or at least cover up) any embarrassing leaks. The color black can help hide any leaks. Loose fitting clothing can also help hide any extra protection that you may be using to prevent leakage.
As you can see, there are several options for managing urine leakage while exercising. Try incorporating some of the above tips and don’t let incontinence keep you from getting your work out!
Have you tried any of the tips above, or do you have others you’d like to share? Tell us about them in the comments below!