My dear ladies, and gentlemen too, if you dread exercise (jump rope, squatting, running, etc) because you have a little uncontrollable bladder leakage, please know this: You are NOT alone! If you sneeze or cough and get that “uh-oh” moment sometimes, believe me, I understand. As a mother of a 1½ year old and expecting baby #2 in May 2018, I have had my share of issues with this myself. But also let me clarify, peeing a little during a workout or a hard sneeze is NOT something you have to learn to deal with for the rest of your life.
Peeing a little during a workout or a hard sneeze is NOT something you have to learn to deal with for the rest of your life.
And no, drinking less water is absolutely not the answer! Pelvic floor issues are common, but a lot of women (and men) are embarrassed to talk about it, so you might not know just how common they are. These issues can even result in pain with intercourse or bowel movements. There are many types of pelvic floor and incontinence issues: stress, urge, functional, etc. They can arise out of different circumstances, including pregnancy, trauma, prostate surgery, obesity, and even stress. Peeing during jumping, running, working out, etc is NOT normal and it CAN be addressed with the right exercises and corrections to your pelvic floor. This is where physical therapy comes in.
Peeing during jumping, running, working out, etc is NOT normal and it CAN be addressed.
First, you have to understand how our “CORE” is shaped and how that relates to the pelvic floor. Imagine a soup can: imagine that the can contains the vital organs in the abdominal cavity, the top of the can is the diaphragm, the curved walls are the abdominal and back muscles, and the bottom of the can is the “pelvic floor.” The pelvic floor is made up of muscles. Like all muscles, they can get weak. A pesky thing called pregnancy, labor, and delivery can cause these muscles to become weaker. When you increase your abdominal pressure (by holding your breath, sneezing, coughing, jumping), all the walls of the “can” have to squeeze together to stabilize. If there is a weakness in any of the walls, ceiling, or floor of the “can”, the pressure will push on the weakest part. If you have a weakened pelvic floor, that is where the leakage will occur. The good news: the pelvic floor can be trained and get stronger, too! See the video below and keep reading for tips.
The pelvic floor can be trained and get stronger, too!
One of the easiest ways to start retraining the pelvic floor is to do what is commonly known as “Kegel” exercises. You can do this exercise while laying down, sitting, or standing. Start by imagining that you are stopping urine flow. You will also want to feel like your pelvic floor is lifting up and inward. Once you have that sensation, try 10 repetitions. If that is easy, try 10 reps of 5-10 second holds, relaxing completely between reps. Do you have that down? Now try while not holding your breath or tightening your abdominal muscles. Is it getting harder yet? Like any muscle, it takes time to isolate and retrain, especially if the brain has a hard time communicating with those muscles. Being consistent and practicing frequently goes a long way to helping improve pelvic floor stability. These exercises are safe to perform every day, multiple times per day if you are motivated enough. Note: Tightening or strengthening pelvic floor muscles may not be the most appropriate treatment for every pelvic floor dysfunction or incontinence issue, so please speak to a healthcare professional if you have persistent problems with your bladder or bowel.
If you are having issues controlling your bladder, please know that you are NOT alone.
If you take home anything from this blog, it’s this: If you are having issues controlling your bladder, please know that you are NOT alone and you do NOT have to accept this issue as permanent. You CAN do something to address the issue and return back to your regular workouts again! A local physical therapist may be able to help point you in the right direction.
-Dr. Stephanie Garcia, PT, DPT, ATC, CSCS
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