Managing Incontinence During Exercise
Living with incontinence presents several challenges. Exercising while you're experiencing urinary incontinence can present its challenges. Urinary leakage can happen anytime - in yoga class, lifting weights at the gym, or even just running.
Why does exercise cause leaks?
Urinary Incontinence (UI) during running and sports is most often due to stress on the bladder. It can also occur when you laugh, sneeze, or stand. It can occur in women of any age but is most common after giving birth. Here are some helpful tips for dealing with UI during exercise:
- Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor With Kegel Exercises. Kegel or pelvic floor exercises are one of the most effective ways to improve and maintain bowel and bladder function. A weak pelvic floor predisposes you to stress urinary incontinence. Just 5 minutes of Kegels a day can significantly reduce leaks. You can find exercises to do at home or visit a pelvic floor physiotherapist.
- Watch what you drink. It's essential to stay hydrated, especially if you're being active. However, drinks such as caffeinated drinks like coffee, tea or pop will result in more trips to the bathroom.
- Use a pessary or tampon. Using a tampon can help prevent urinary incontinence caused by stress incontinence as it supports the urethra. Women typically use a pessary with pelvic floor prolapse to immobilize the prolapse. These intravaginal devices can support the urethra and potentially relieve stress urinary incontinence.
- Protect yourself with incontinence products. Of course, if you experience leaks, there are many discreet incontinence products that can help with comfort, protection and odour.
- Retrain the bladder. Like any other muscle in the body that you work and train, the bladder can also be trained. Instead of bowing to every urge to go to the bathroom, try to extend bathroom visits and slowly work up to longer periods of time.
- Empty your bladder before your workout. If you notice that you are experiencing leaks while exercising, get into the habit of emptying your bladder beforehand. You can also make mindful choices of eating easily digestible foods to avoid gas and reduce pre-workout bloating.
Don't stop exercising.
Many people are experiencing the same things you are. There is no need to be ashamed or embarrassed. There are many ways to manage your leaks while also living an active lifestyle. Changing some of your routines and/or using incontinence products can give you the confidence to do what you want.