The Best Incontinence Products For Working Out

The Best Incontinence Products For Working Out

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.

 

Avoid bulk.

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!

Patient Perspective: Sally's Story

Sally's Story - Running and working out when you have incontinence

Once both my kids were in elementary school full time, I finally started working out. I became a runner, and devoted most mornings after they were in school to jogging through the neighborhood. I entered races and started doing small 5Ks, until I finally worked my way up to a full marathon last year. Things were going great and I was feeling strong and happy.

So, imagine my surprise, after years of being an avid runner, to suddenly start experiencing bladder leaks. My kids were not little anymore – they were both in high school at this point and I thought that I bypassed this type of problem that usually accompanies childbirth.

I spoke to my doctor, and found out that, to my surprise, this problem often accompanies serious runners too. Turns out that pounding the pavement every day isn’t so great for your pelvic floor. In fact, my doctor told me that up to 30% of female runners experience incontinence while running.

My doctor said there are lots of things that can weaken the pelvic floor over the years; childbirth, age, and surgeries can all take their toll (I unfortunately check all three boxes). Add to that running several miles per week, and I saw how my activity was contributing to the problem. 

I wasn't ready to give up running, and luckily my doctor didn't think I had to. While there are many therapies available (medication, surgery, exercise), he started me on a regimen of kegel exercises. I do them first thing in the morning, and 3 other times throughout the day.  He also recommended that I try some other behavioral tactics: limit my fluid intake right before my run, make sure to empty my bladder before running, and try planning a route that has some bathroom stops along the way. 

These changes have been helping me a lot and while there might come a time that I consider something like surgery, for now, it helps to know that I’m able to take matters into my own hands and manage my bladder leaks without stopping the activities I love. 

I'm glad I opened up about this condition and can continue my passion!

Sally S., Atlanta, GA


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Don't Quit Exercising Because Of Urinary Incontinence

Working Out With Incontinence

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!


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SUI Treatment tracker

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Have you started treatment for SUI? Sign up to receive our SUI Treatment Tracker and keep track of your progress! This 6 week program will help keep you on track and will help determine how your treatment is working.


How To Start A Walking Group

How To Start A Walking Group

How To Start A Walking Group

Maintaining a healthy weight is an important part of any health plan. It not only makes you look and feel better, but it can ward off other conditions such as diabetes, and incontinence. But, staying active can sometimes be easier said than done. Sometimes you just don’t feel like getting to the gym or working out on your own. That’s why we love the idea of starting your own walking group. A walking group is great because members can help keep you accountable for your activity, motivate you to succeed and push you beyond your normal limits. Plus, working out is always more fun if you have a buddy or a community to support you. So lace up your sneakers and check out our tips for getting your own group together!

5 Tips For Starting A Walking Group

1. Round up your squad!

Start by pulling together friends, family members, and co-workers who would like to join the group. If you need more members, try putting up a flyer in your gym, senior center, or library. 

2. Organize a kick-off meeting.  

Work together to decide on the goals of the group, and set some guidelines.  Here are some important things to consider:

  • When will you meet?
  • How often?
  • Will you walk when the weather is colder/raining/snowing?
  • Will you divide into smaller groups or all walk together?
  • How will you contact each other? Through email? A phone tree?

3. Set some goals.

Encourage members to set and share some personal goals to help keep everyone motivated. You may also choose to set a group goal, like walking x number of days a year, completing x number of steps, etc. Goals are a great way to make the group feel more cohesive and helps everyone keep at it (even when they may not feel like it!)

4. Start walking.

Walking is such a great workout because it’s free and easy to do. Set your date for your first walk and remind people to dress appropriately and for the weather.

5. Stay motivated.

Celebrate your successes! Have periodic dinners or coffee dates when you reach milestones as a group and encourage each other to keep going. Invite fitness speakers to talk with your group and provide extra motivation! And make sure to mix it up! Explore new routes or trails periodically to keep it interesting.

If the idea of starting a new group doesn’t appeal to you, try joining one that already exists. Many gyms or YMCA’s offer these types of groups and they are easy to join.

Walking can be a great way to stay healthy at any age and forming a community to do it makes it fun.  Start your walking group today!

Have any other tips for starting a walking group? Leave them in the comments below!

Gender Neutral Pelvic Floor Tips

Gender Neutral Pelvic Floor Tips

Simply stated - the pelvic floor isn’t just a female thing - it is a muscular sling supporting the pelvic and abdominal organs of men and women.  The pelvic floor helps keep us dry.  More than 50 percent of men over the age of 60 experience bladder control issues due to an enlarged prostate.  

Before I share my best pelvic floor tips for both sexes, we need to agree on the following three truths: strengthening a weak pelvic floor may improve bladder control and confidence, utilizing my tips in conjunction with seeing your healthcare provider will create the most optimal effect, and it’s important to allow yourself to have a bad day here and there.  

Here are my best pelvic floor tips.

Start a Bladder or Bowel Diary

For a week, keep track of your trips to the bathroom, your leaks and how much and what you are drinking. Note any trends with fluid intake, time of day and activity level in relation to using the bathroom and your leaks. Your documentation may help your health care provider order tests, make a more accurate diagnosis or prompt a referral to a specialist.But, please consider what you can do with the information. Are there any trends you are seeing? Do you have more problems in the morning, afternoon or evening? Do you need to space out your fluid intake?  ou may be able to cue into changes that may positively impact your bladder control and confidence.  

Drink more water and consider cutting down on alcohol and caffeine

Many newly incontinent persons incorrectly assume if there is less water in the system there will be less water to pass. Cutting out water, or significantly decreasing water consumption, while continuing to consume alcohol and caffeine at normal previous levels may aggravate the bladder and make the leakage problems worse.  Hydration with plain, old water is one of the keys to improved bladder function.  And, revisit your diary – it may be possible that alcohol or caffeine may be a trigger to your leakage pattern.  Do you need notice you have more problems with bladder control after a glass or two of coffee or your favorite cocktail?  

Kegels

Yes – we need to talk about this.  Men can do Kegels and should do Kegels to improve bladder control.  Kegels are not just meant for women.  Repetitively performing Kegels will improve pelvic floor muscle function, strength and endurance.  Kegels should be a habit like brushing your teeth. The truth of the matter is - if your pelvic floor muscles are in better space they will be better able to support you and keep you dry.  Here are some cues that may help you or your loved one perform a Kegel.   

 Return to the idea that pelvic floor is a muscular sling.  It supports your abdominal and pelvic organs kind of like a hammock running along the base of pelvis – front to back and side to side.

  • Gently pull the pelvic floor up and in towards your navel as if trying to protect yourself from a blow to the belly. When you do this – you may feel a gentle tightening of the muscles underneath your navel. Your tailbone may gently rises up and in. Continue your normal breath. Keep in mind, the Kegel, I am recommending is not 100% effort but a gentle tightening of the muscular sling.

  • Continue breathing and hold the Kegel for a few seconds. Then gradually relax. Repeat until you’re fatigued or have completed your goal.

That concludes my list of my best pelvic floor tips. What are your best practices?

About the Author, Michelle Herbst: I am a wife and mother with a passion of helping women live to their fullest potential. I am a women’s health physical therapist and for nearly decade have helped women with musculoskeletal conditions during their pregnancies, postpartum period and into their golden years.

About the Author, Michelle Herbst: I am a wife and mother with a passion of helping women live to their fullest potential. I am a women’s health physical therapist and for nearly decade have helped women with musculoskeletal conditions during their pregnancies, postpartum period and into their golden years.

Incorporating pelvic floor exercises into your general workout routine - 3 best moves to add now.

3 Pelvic Floor Exercises to add To your workout routine now.

A guest blog written by Michelle Herbst, PT

Pelvic Floor Exercises, or Kegels, is the contraction of the muscles between the pubic bone and tailbone. When a pelvic floor exercise is performed, the person should feel a gentle tightening and lifting sensation in the lower abdomen and perineum. The pelvic floor muscle contraction is complete when the muscles relax and let go of the contraction.

Please keep in mind these tips when performing a pelvic floor exercise to protect yourself from undue harm. One, you must be able to maintain your breath and therefore be able to inhale and exhale while performing a Kegel and avoid breath holding or bearing down. Two, your muscular effort should be around 75 to 80 percent. If you are exerting 100 percent effort, you are likely using the pelvic floor muscles and many other muscle groups as well.

There are many variations and progressions of a Kegel exercise.

Here are 3 ways to incorporate pelvic floor exercises into your daily routines.

Exercise One: Kegel Progression

The pelvic floor muscles are made of two muscle fiber types – fast and slow. Therefore, Kegels can be progressed by varying the hold time and intensity of the muscle contraction. One of my favorite progressions is simply lengthening the hold time followed by a few quick pelvic floor contractions. For example, a Kegel can be held for 5 seconds followed by 5 quick contractions. This Kegel Combo can be done in any position – seated, standing or lying down. It can be done to the beat of music while seated at a stop light or at the end of a cardio or lifting session when you are your mat working the abdominal exercises.

Exercise Two: Kegel with Breath Work

Yoga is the all the rage and you my find your zen when performing a Kegal with breath work. While your yoga instructor is cueing you in inhale and exhale think about what your pelvic floor. Typically, during focused breathing such as in a Yoga Class, there is always slight tension on the pelvic floor. However, you further engage the pelvic floor muscles when you forcibly exhale. During this type of exhalation, the pelvic floor muscles tighten further along with our deep abdominal muscles to push the air up and out of our lungs. Try it. It may transform your yoga practice.

Exercise Three: Kegel with Plank

Plank. It is a much loved and hated exercise. It is a great way to fully engage our core. And, to reap the benefits of the plank - you must focus on the pelvic floor. If your wrists and feet can tolerate a full plank – go for it! If you need to modify, do a half-plank on your knees. Or, try a wall plank by standing with your feet an arms-length away from the wall and placing your hands on the wall.

Here are a few head to toe cues to get you planking.

When in plank, the hands are stacked under the elbows and shoulders. The chin is slightly tucked lengthening the back of the neck. Your shoulder blades are pulled down and back towards the spine. The chest opens and the pelvis is slightly lifted. Your legs are hip width apart. In full plank, your ankles are 90 degrees as you weight bear through the toes. Now, draw your focus to your pelvic floor muscles.  When you tighten the Kegel muscles, you may feel like your tailbone lift up and in. Hold your plank and breathe. Smile too – you just may enjoy how strong you feel.

 
Michelle Herbst, PT

Michelle Herbst, PT

 

3 FREE Workout Apps To Help Get You Back On Track

3 Free Workout Apps

Getting into a workout habit can be difficult.  These apps make it easier. For the person who is short on time, looking for a way to count calorie-intake, or in need of some new moves, read below. This post is for you.

3 Free Workout Apps To Get You Back On Track

Johnson & Johnson Official 7 Minute Workout

Don’t think you have time for a workout? The Johnson & Johnson 7 Minute Workout app gives you a great workout in just – you guessed it – 7 minutes. You’ll be able to choose your skill level, create custom workouts, and log your workouts so that you can see your progress over time. As a bonus, the app allows you to workout to your own music. No more excuses.

MyFitnessPal

This app allows you to track calorie intake by recording what and how much you eat. MyFitnessPal boasts a database of over 5,000,000 foods (and nutrition info) that can be entered and you can even scan barcodes to learn the nutritional value for a specific food. The app also allows you to track activity, with estimated caloric burn, so that you can track your overall daily intake and shed those pesky pounds.

Nike+ Training Club

One of our favorites. Like the Johnson & Johnson 7 Minute Workout App, this one allows you to choose your level. Workouts range from 15-45 minutes and provide great video and audio examples of each move, making it easy to know how to do them (especially if you are new to many of these.)  The app allows you to track your workouts and other activity you do outside of the app (yoga, basketball, etc.). Plus, the more you use it, the more personalized your workout recommendations become. 

Misconceptions About Being A Mom And Bladder Health

Moms and Bladder Health

Becoming a mother is one of the most joyful things that can happen to a woman.  But it can also be challenging.  Not only are you dealing with the demanding task of raising a little one, your own body is undergoing constant change as well.  There are a lot of misconceptions out there about how our bodies should perform after we have kids - many of them false.  Take a read below and learn some of the most common misconceptions around bladder health and becoming a mother.  

Misconceptions around bladder health and becoming a mother

Fact or Myth?  After having kids, it’s normal to pee a little when I laugh, sneeze, run, etc.

Myth. While this can happen for a few months after childbirth, it is not something that is “normal.” It should be dealt with.  Talk to your doctor or a trained physical therapist about some exercises that may help get you back to normal, and product suggestions that can help you manage incontinence in the meantime.

Fact or Myth?  If you’ve had kids, you can expect to have urinary incontinence or OAB when you become older.

Myth.  It’s true that sometimes incontinence does not rear it’s ugly head until well after you’ve had your children – often in your 40’s or 50’s.  But that doesn’t mean that it’s a sure thing you will suffer from incontinence – especially if you are proactive in getting your pelvic floor strong now.  It’s never too late to start incorporating your pelvic floor into your workout routine.

Fact or Myth?  I might as well get used to being incontinent – now that I’ve had a baby there is nothing I can really do about it anyway.

Myth.  As we mentioned above, incontinence is certainly not normal, and there are a host of things that you can do to manage, and even fix it for good.  For starters, adult absorbent products can help you manage immediate leaks that you may be suffering from post childbirth until you are able to build up your strength again.   When you schedule your 6-week postpartum check up with your doctor, schedule a visit with your physical therapist as well – it’s a great time for an initial evaluation and you can learn some good postpartum exercises to start right away.  And if you are still feeling like things are not quite right after a couple of months, talk with your doctor about what you can do.

Fact or Myth:  I don’t have to worry about working on my pelvic floor until after I’ve had the baby.

Myth.  One of the best things you can do to prepare yourself for childbirth is to start working out your pelvic floor today.  Not only will it make your delivery easier, but you will be that much stronger and your recovery in the postpartum days ahead will be much faster.

Integrate Kegels Into Your Daily Workout Warmup

Integrate kegels into your workout warmup

Going from zero to 60mph is great for your new two-seater racing car, but not for your muscles. It’s important to slowly gain speed in your workout routine, making your warm up routine a prime time to work your pelvic floor.

Strengthening your pelvic floor will help restore muscle function and lessen the symptoms of incontinence. Kegels are the primary pelvic floor exercise.

Whether you’re jogging, running, hiking, biking, or playing a contact sport, warming up is crucial to your exercise plan, so why not incorporate kegel training into your daily routine to help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles?

Here are a few suggestions for including kegels in your warm up routine:

  • Walk for 3-5 minutes at a steady pace. Take a break at a corner on your block or a turn on a trail and do 10 pelvic floor holds.

  • Do 10 lunges and 10 wall-sits for three reps. Between rotations, practice 5 kegels.

  • Practice a forward fold to stretch your hamstrings and back. Hold the fold 10-15 seconds, then stand and hold a kegel for 5-10 seconds. Repeat for 2-3 times.

  • Do jumping jacks or jump rope for 30-second intervals. Between each interval, practice 10 kegels.

Both men and women have pelvic floor muscles and both men and women experience a lack in pelvic floor strength as they age. Learn more about the importance of working your pelvic floor here. And find instructions on how to properly kegel, or lift your pelvic floor, here.  It is important to remember to let your muscles relax between contractions and to work all the muscles of your core to ensure optimal pelvic floor strength.  If you are unsure of the exercises that would work best for you, finding a physical therapist specialized in pelvic floor strengthening can be very helpful in creating a routine.

If you are looking for more ways to warm up before your work outs, we suggest heading over to workoutlabs.com. You can make your own printable full-body warm up graphic so you always have examples at hand. Print your own sheet out and add kegels wherever you feel most comfortable.

See our favorite full body warm up rotation below. Click here to make your own