This one’s for you, ladies.
Many of you, especially the mommas out there, know all about the dreaded workout pees. It’s a topic no one’s ever entirely comfortable discussing, but the need to urinate or leak during exercise is something many of us experience on a regular basis. This is often brought on by movements such as skipping, jumping, or running… sound familiar? Other than the mad dash to the bathroom or the precautionary pee, what can you do about it? Let’s talk first about why it might be happening.
Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI) occurs when movements exerting force on the often weak abdominal and pelvic floor muscles put pressure on the bladder, resulting in an unintentional loss of urine. Two common factors that can contribute to SUI and pelvic floor dysfunction are:
1) HYPOtonicity = WEAK pelvic floor muscles.
Most of you have heard about the Kegel, and how it’s the greatest thing ever, and will help solve all of your pelvic floor issues. Yes, there is strong evidence suggesting that Kegels are effective in reducing the effects of SUI. Check out this article for some helpful tips to perform Kegel’s effectively (hint: most people don’t!) In the case of hypotonicity, Kegel’s will most likely help to reduce SUI, but pelvic floor weakness can be only one small piece of the puzzle.
2) HYPERtonicity = TIGHT pelvic floor muscles.
The pelvic floor muscles can become so tight that they are unable to relax, resulting in the inability to contract them fully when we need them to—which can lead to leakage. In this case, the Kegel exercise would NOT likely help to improve your SUI, In fact, it might actually make the problem worse. Before strengthening, a good place to start is to teach your body how to fully relax the pelvic floor.
- Relax the pelvic floor and as you inhale. I find it helps to think about the air you are inhaling expanding the front, back, sides, and bottom of the diaphragm where your pelvic floor is located.
- Gently lift the pelvic floor on your exhale as you simultaneously engage your deep abdominal muscles. Imagine the muscles of your pelvic floor are an elevator and the elevator is going up as you contract them.
Once your body has the ability to relax the pelvic floor and isolate the pelvic floor muscles with Kegels, try the following:
- Get more bang for your buck and co-contract your pelvic floor muscles at the same time as your deep abdominals, when completing core exercises like, the Dying Bug. During the reach, exhale as you engage the pelvic floor and the lower abdominal muscles:
- Complete soft tissue release (foam or stick rolling) and mobility work in your adductors and hamstrings—muscles that can overcompensate for weak pelvic floor and abdominal muscles.
- Complete regular general strength training! It builds up muscle volume and will provide structural support to help reduce SUI.
- Specifically targeting the strengthening of your glutes will help your body to maintain the necessary posture to create optimal tension in the muscles of your pelvic floor. Check out this post for some exercises to help build your booty.
Research suggests that women with incontinence also have a higher rate of back pain, hip pain and disordered breathing. Targeting any dysfunction in the pelvic floor can be one small, yet effective piece towards helping your body move and feel better.
If you experience any of the above symptoms, then don’t be afraid to ask for help! This is an issue that so many women experience and there are Pelvic Floor Physiotherapists who can help you determine why exactly you might be experiencing pelvic dysfunction.
Here’s to some leak-free future workouts! Shoot me a message if you want to talk about your workout pees (firstname.lastname@example.org) 😉