It’s a sad tale that I hear all too often. “I love running/Zumba/CrossFit/hiking but it makes me leak!” It’s true. When a the pelvic floor and core muscles aren’t working well, urinary (or worse) leakage can happen.
The next sentence out of my patient’s mouth, usually falls into one of two categories.
- “Because I leak I stopped doing the exercise”
- “I just continue on through the leaking”
Neither of these are great options and here’s why. Exercise is important – I don’t think I really need to explain that. We also know that those who choose exercise that they enjoy, are more likely to stick with it. So, having to stop an exercise that you love, because of leaking, is not ideal. And the second option? Continuing through leaking, in my opinion, is similar to continuing through any other muscle or tendon injury. If your knee gave out after running 1km, would you continue? Probably not. Would you maybe scale back your pace/distance/frequency and rehab the knee? That’s the more likely answer.
So why aren’t patients rehabbing the pelvic floor? Well, in the past, physicians (and pelvic floor physiotherapists) would often just recommend stopping the activity. But this left patients without a strategy to return to their sport, and many just ignored the advice.
How are some ways that you can alter your activity and rehab you pelvic floor at the same time?
You can slow you pace – hike a bit slower or slow down the speed of your jumping jacks. You can reduce the weight your are working with – squat with a bit less weight, don’t push the stroller when you run. You can make sure your form is perfected – often time less than optimal running or lifting form can contribute to leaks. You can also work in ratios – run until you feel like you are about to leak, then slow down to a walk to recover. Do as many double-unders as you can without leaking, then do some single skips to recover. You get the idea.
Need some help getting back to a sport you love? Tired of wearing a pad when you exercise? There are some simple solutions that might work for you. Give your local pelvic floor physiotherapist a call and stop letting leaking keep you from being fit!
Katie Kelly, PT
BSc., MSc. PT