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New Year's Exercise Resolution Limited by Leakage?

The New Year is upon us - many of us may be making resolutions to increase our physical fitness. This goal can be complicated by pelvic floor issues like urinary leakage (otherwise known as incontinence).

Do you avoid running, jumping or lifting due to fear of peeing your pants at the gym? Or can you only wear black leggings or shorts to avoid an embarrassing wet spot after participating in a workout class? If you can relate, you may benefit from pelvic floor physical therapy.

Your pelvic floor is a set of muscles that make up the base of your core. The pelvic floor muscles work together with your diaphragm and abdominal muscles to provide you with a strong foundation to be able to go for a run, lift weights, or do a high intensity interval training workout that includes plyometrics.

Tips for Managing Incontinence With Exercise:

  • Start with the basics. Do not be afraid to slow down your movements, back off on the weight, and be intentional with the exercise.
  • Start with shorter duration workouts since incontinence can happen with increased fatigue of the pelvic floor and repetitive movements.
  • Start with exercises that reduce the effects of gravity on the pelvic floor and are low-impact, like a recumbent bike or stability exercises while lying on a mat.
  • Utilize breathing techniques to help manage pressure on your pelvic floor - like exhaling during the most difficult part of the exercise such as pushing or pulling. If you hold your breath when exercising or overuse your abdominals above your belly button, pressure is increased on the bladder and your pelvic floor, putting you more at risk for incontinence.
  • Work on core stabilization, especially your deepest abdominal muscles, the transversus abdominis. Think of these muscles like your internal corset. They are the most difficult abdominal muscles to gain an awareness of, yet they are the most important for controlling leakage. You can engage these muscles by drawing in, like you are putting on a tight pair of pants. Overuse of your other abdominal muscles may result in more urinary leakage, prolapses, hemorrhoids and a tight pelvic floor.

Pelvic Floor Care is Important

Your pelvic floor is highly active during exercise, and it is essential you can appropriately coordinate your pelvic floor, abdominal muscles, and breathing to help prevent leakage.

If you need help to start a new fitness program or to maximize your current workouts with less leakage, a CHI Health pelvic health physical therapist can help. Reach out to our Pelvic Health Navigator at (402) 717-7358 or visit our website.

Justine Lallman, PT, DPT
Justine Lallman, PT, DPT

Justine Lallman, PT, DPT is a Pelvic Health Physical Therapist at CHI Health.

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