The best way to stop leaking urine when you exercise is to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and modify HOW you perform your chosen activity to suit your pelvic floor.
According to the Continence Foundation of Australia:
‘…an Australian study found that over a three-month period, 50% of women aged 45–59 years of age experienced some degree of mild, moderate or severe urinary incontinence.’
Chances are if you’re one of these women you will compromise your involvement in exercise or stop it altogether due to the discomfort and embarrassment of bladder leakage.
…and I wouldn’t blame you if you did. Nor would I blame you if you kept on going ignoring your symptoms.
However, neither options are ideal.
A/ If you stop exercising altogether you are at a higher risk of developing a range of life-threatening conditions e.g. heart disease.
B/ If you avoid certain activities that you enjoy, you’ll miss out on pleasure. Now that would be a terrific shame.
C/ If you keep going regardless of your lack of bladder control, you can aggravate the issue further.
So, the goal is to continue to exercise in a way that’s agreeable with your pelvic floor.
To help you out, here are
8 Tips to Stop Leaking Urine When You Exercise
1. Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor Muscles.
You can do this by performing pelvic floor exercises regularly. With the correct technique, the right frequency, and loading you can experience improvements within just a couple of weeks. As you are getting stronger, you will be able to do more without leaking.
2. Adjust Your Technique.
This is all about pressure management. The more pressure you create on your pelvic floor during an exercise, the harder your pelvic floor needs to work to keep you continent. Here are some pressure reducing strategies to consider:
- Avoid your abdominal muscles tensing excessively during exercise. You might be surprised that you can perform the same with less straining. Move with ease.
- Breathe through all exercises.
- Work with your posture. Start by standing effortlessly upright, without tucking your bum and aim to align yourself.
- Distribute the exertion the exercise demands throughout your body instead of focusing it on a smaller area.
3. Rebuild Gradually.
For tasks that break your pelvic floor threshold take a step back and re-start light and slow. As you gradually increase the load and intensity, observe what causes you to leak.
Find out if it’s a technic or muscle weakness issue (or both) that’s causing you to leak.
It’s worth rehearsing the revised technique light and slow and waiting for appropriate muscle strength to increase before progressing to the next level.
4. Modify Your Workout.
Try to perform the same exercise differently to eliminate the bladder control issue. For instance:
• Sit down for upper-body work.
• Lift a lighter load.
• Go low-impact instead of high.
• If you are a runner, walk on downward slopes.
• Exercise early in the morning.
• Lessen the duration of your overall workout.
• Reduce the number of consecutive repetitions.
• Plank on your knees.
These modifications may only need to be temporary. As your pelvic floor muscles strengthen, you might be able to go back to the original exercise without being overload for your pelvic floor.
5. Do Something Else.
If all the above doesn’t eliminate your pelvic floor symptoms, find something in the huge selection of exercises that you enjoy and is more suitable for your body for example: substitute leg presses for leg extensions.
6 Self-Managed Incontinence Pessary
A self-managed incontinence pessary is easy to use, much like an ordinary tampon, and it can relieve bladder weakness immediately for example during exercise, cough, sneeze, lift, or laugh. I recommend a product called IncoStress. Here is how and why it works.
If the urethra (tube via which we empty the bladder) loses its anatomically correct position – by sagging down due to the saggy weakness of the pelvic floor muscles – the natural dynamics that keep us continent become compromised. So, this can result in bladder leakage, especially during workouts.
To rectify this obviously the urethra needs to be restored to its natural position. Although this can be achieved with pelvic floor exercises (not clenching and squeezing) as they will lift the pelvic floor musculature and strengthen the front vaginal wall.
But this can take time. So, in the meantime, the urethra can be propped up by a pessary – like IncoStress – during exercise or heavy physical demand to avoid leakage.
You might consider inserting a tampon for exercise at first, and if the “tampon-pessary” worked, then consider investing in an IncoStress pessary.
7 Adapt to Your Power Fluctuations
If you experience bladder control issues on and off during exercise, consider what else other than your activity and pelvic floor condition may be contributing to your symptoms.
Are you having your period, or near having it? Are you constipated? Are you stressed to the max? Are you tired or exhausted? Are you recovering from illness, surgery, childbirth, or an injury? Are you peri/menopausal? Are you sleep-deprived? Have you increased your overall activity level lately? You get my meaning…
At these times give yourself permission to take it easy. Your body’s inability to maintain bladder control is already sending you a message to do just that. It’s best to honour it.
8 Wear Protection and Black
Although this tip won’t help you to stop leaking, it can help you to stay in the game as you’re transitioning to be leak-free.
If you’re experiencing bladder leaks during exercise but you want to continue, you need immediate help to keep going without feeling uncomfortable and committing social suicide.
So, wear a leak-free undie or use an absorbent liner (see if you can find one specifically designed for workouts) as a BAND-AID solution. It’s obviously not the answer and the issue is not fixed, but it can help you out until things are sorted, adjusted, and strengthened. Loose-fitting clothing can aid you to hide the protection.
Tip: Black leggings are least likely to show up leaks.
If fixing leaking urine during exercise is beyond your capability and your symptoms persist consult with expert help from your personal trainer, GP and physiotherapist.
I hope this helps you to remain physically active without leaking.
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