Do You Leak When You Exercise?


A Pelvic Physiotherapist Can Help!

We all know that exercise is beneficial for our health.  With so many known health benefits of exercise such as; increased energy, improved mood, better sleep, lower incidence of depression, promoting cardiovascular health and healthy body weight, there is good reason to find something you enjoy and fit it in your schedule.  Running, Bootcamp classes and Cross Fit are popular choices.  Some people may choose a team sport like tennis, volleyball or basketball.  No matter the sport or exercise class, it is important to be consistent to reap the health benefits.  Have you ever experienced leaking during your sport or exercise class and has this prevented you from full participation in your activity of choice?

When unwanted bladder leaks (or sense of urgency of leaking) occur during exercise or running it may be embarrassing, frustrating and discouraging, but also could become a barrier to continue exercise and negatively affect health. Unfortunately, this is more common than people realize.  

Why do I leak when I exercise?  

Running is a high impact exercise, with measured forces of 2-6 times bodyweight each time the foot contacts the ground.  Cross Fit and Bootcamp classes or sports that require jumping create similar demands on the body.  The pelvic muscles play a large role in supporting the body’s ability to absorb these impact forces. When the pelvic muscles cannot keep up with the impact loads the result can be unwanted bladder leaks, known as Urinary Stress Incontinence, the most common pelvic muscle dysfunction.

What can cause Pelvic floor muscle dysfunction?  

Pelvic floor dysfunction is NOT gender specific, and can be identified by weakness, poor endurance, tension, stiffness or over activity of the muscles in the pelvic /lumbar girdle; some causes include: 

  • Pregnancy/Post partum
  • Bladder Infections
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Persistent Low Back/Hip pain
  • Prostatitis/Post Prosectomy
  • Cancer treatments
  • Abdominal/Pelvic Surgery
  • History of stress/anxiety/depression
  • Painful Menstrual Cycles
  • Interstitial Cystitis
  • Tailbone injuries
  • High Impact Sports
  • Menopause
  • Constipation

Facts About Incontinence (Leaking Bladder)

  • 3 million Canadians suffer from incontinence (leaking bladder)
  • 1 in 3 women and 1 in 9 men report living with incontinence
  • 29% of elite female athletes report living with incontinence (without a history of pregnancy)
  • Pelvic Health Physiotherapy is considered the first line of defense for incontinence according to research studies with Grade A/Level 1 evidence.

Is there anything I can do to stop leaking when I exercise?

Although common, stress incontinence (and sense of urgency) with exercise isn't something you have to live with. It can be a sign that your pelvic muscles are not working their best, either too weak, too tense or have poor co-ordination.  This is where Pelvic Health Physiotherapists have advanced training that can help!  

At Fit for Life Physiotherapy, our specially trained Pelvic Health Physiotherapists Wendy Hancock and Natalie Lehto, who are rostered with the College of Physiotherapists of Ontario, are able to perform a detailed assessment of the pelvic muscles’ ability to function and then provide an individualized treatment program  to help you successfully enjoying your exercise of choice without Leaking.   

If you are dealing with any of these issues you are not alone and the skilled and experienced Pelvic Health Physiotherapists at Fit for Life Physiotherapy are here to help.  Wendy and Natalie are always available for a free 15 minute consultation to help you understand how they can help and what they do