Did you know that more than 40% of female runners report leaking during running or other high-impact activities? As common as it is to suffer from incontinence while running, it shouldn't be happening. Many suffer in silence, or try to hide the embarrassing wetness, but it can be resolved!
Stress urinary incontinence (SUI) is an involuntary loss of urine associated with an increase of pressure exerted on the abdominal muscles. If you have SUI you may experience leakage when you cough, sneeze, laugh, or during high-impact activities like running and jumping. Although stress urinary incontinence affects both men and women, the percentage is greater in the female population. Pregnancy and childbirth rank high on the list of causes for SUI, but other risk factors include: prostate surgery, obesity, chronic coughing due to smoking/lung disease, loss of pelvic muscle tone, repeated heavy lifting, or high-impact sports.
Imagine your pelvic floor muscles like a sling. They attach at the pubic bone in front and run all the way to the tailbone in the back. These muscles support your pelvic organs; bowel, bladder, uterus, vagina and rectum. SUI occurs when pelvic floor muscles and other supportive tissues weaken. Now imagine exerting force on weak abdominal and pelvic muscles; it is going to put pressure on your pelvic organs.
Hold on! Don't rush off to do Kegels just yet.
There are two reasons for a weak pelvic floor: hypotonic muscles (relaxed and there’s a strength deficit) and hypertonic muscles (too tight). For those who have too much tension in their pelvic floor, this will cause the muscles to fatigue, leading to the same lack of support as those with a weak pelvic floor. Whether you need to strengthen or relax, a pelvic health therapist can work with you to develop a plan to ensure you're on the right track.