Does going for a jog always make you need to pee? You’re not alone—over 40 percent of female athletes experience urinary incontinence. Fear not! The problem is usually treatable with specifically designed physical therapy for runners’ incontinence.
Why do I need to pee every time I run?
Physical activity, such as running, puts pressure on the bladder, which may lead to leakage. This can occur when muscles of the pelvic floor, which work to support the bladder and reduce leakage, are weak or inefficient. Runners’ incontinence can happen to anyone at any age. However, it is most common in women, especially after vaginal delivery.
Let’s Talk about Urinary Incontinence
Most women don’t want to talk about leakage. Even though runners’ incontinence is uncomfortable and frustrating, 95% of athletes don’t speak to their doctor. Instead, they use the restroom before running to avoid leakage. Even with preventative urination, the problem can affect overall athletic performance. The good news is: you don’t have to live with leakage—effective treatments are available.
Physical Therapy for Runners’ Incontinence
With the help of physical therapy, you can learn to gain control over your symptoms and reduce the need for pads and medical interventions. A physical therapist can create an individualized treatment program based on your needs. The PT may help with pelvic floor muscle coordination and bladder habits. The PT may also work to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles through specifically designed exercises. In addition, your PT will talk you through how to sense the movement of your pelvic floor and improve bladder control. Some methods include:
- Bladder training/ behavioral modification – The therapist may use a “bladder diary” to learn about bladder habits. You may then learn various methods to improve bladder retention and urine emptying to improve function.
- Kegels — These exercises involve tightening and releasing your pelvic muscles as if you are trying to stop urine flow.
- Strengthening Exercises — Specific exercises build muscle strength for surrounding muscles that support bladder function. It is difficult for many people to perform kegels correctly; a pelvic floor physical therapist can help.
- Biofeedback — Depending on your level of comfort, your PT may gently employ electrodes to measure muscle activity and give insight into how to best use your pelvic floor muscles.