Do you let bladder leaks keep you from working out? It’s estimated that over 20% of women have quit physical activity due to urinary incontinence. This is unfortunate though. Regular exercise should be a part of maintaining good health, and keeping a healthy weight can actually lessen the occurrence of leaks. Plus, working out can also strengthen the core muscles and the pelvic floor, which can provide more control over the bladder.
So what can you do to protect yourself if you find yourself leaking at the gym? Fortunately there are lots of products on the market that can help you avoid an embarrassing situation.
What to look for in an exercise pad or protection.
Choose a product for incontinence, not menstruation.
It may seem like it would do the job, but pads made for menstruation are much different than absorbent pads made for incontinence. Incontinence pads have a greater level of absorbency, and are typically created with materials that will wick moisture away from your body. Make sure to use a pad specifically designed for incontinence. (Hint – you can discreetly order these online and no one has to know!)
Make sure the product is breathable.
The last think you want is irritated skin because the product was too tight or kept moisture too close during a tough workout. Read the packaging and product descriptions to make sure you’re choosing one that is breathable.
If you’re moving around a lot, you don’t want something that is going to feel bulky getting in the way of your workout. Nor do you want something that will cause chafing. Many of the incontinence products made for working out are very discreet. Try to find one that doesn’t add a lot of bulk to your workout wear.
Choose a product that will stay put.
When you workout, you want something that will stay put and not slide around. Look for a product that sticks well to your undergarments.
Try a pessary for support.
Leaks during workouts may be fixed simply by providing a little bit of extra support to your bladder. Pessaries are small inserts that are fitted by a doctor and help hold the bladder up a bit, providing additional support. This may be helpful if you’re doing a lot of higher intensity moves.
Other tips to keep you dry:
Reduce fluids prior to working out.
Don’t cut out drinks all together. Your body needs to stay hydrated when exercising. But be mindful of what and how much you’re drinking prior to your workout. Downing 2 or 3 cups of coffee before your morning workout routine may not be the wisest choice.
Wear dark, lose-fitting clothing.
If you do end up having an accident, darker colors will hide it better than lighter ones. And, loose fitting shorts and workout pants can help hide absorbent products you may be wearing, and make leaks less noticeable.
Try different types of workouts.
If you truly love an activity, you shouldn’t have to give it up. But there’s also no rule that says you have to do a certain type of workout to get in shape. If running is causing you more stress than enjoyment, try something with less impact. High intensity exercises place a lot of pressure on our bladder, and things like running, tennis, or similar exercises that cause repeated downward pressure can weaken the pelvic floor over time. Walking, swimming or biking may be good options to sub in, at least some of the time. (Read our tips on how to start a walking group!)
Got any tips for staying dry while you exercise? Share them with us in the comments below!