“If peeing your pants is cool, consider me Miles Davis” – Old Farm Lady in Billy Madison
Most people are slow to admit they’ve peed a little during exercise. Along with death, politics and religion it’s something rarely discussed (and often avoided completely) unless we find ourselves in the appropriate company. Fear not my fitness friends, that’s what I’m here for and I have no shame.
My name is Loni and I’ve peed a little while jumping rope.
There I said it. I feel so liberated! You may be asking yourself right now, “Why is she telling me this?”. Aside from being the queen of TMI, I have some very useful information for those of you who are in the same boat as me, (take note of the water puns, because there are more where that came from).
What are we talking about?
What we are talking about here is Stress Urinary Incontinence which by definition is when one is unable to “hold” urine when coughing, sneezing, exercising, or lifting something. The result being leaking or wetting.
What causes SUI?
Yes giving birth to large babies has had an impact on my pelvic situation but this is not something that only affects moms. It can affect anyone, including women who have not given birth AND men. It is fairly common and unfortunately most people believe they just have to learn to live with it. If you find yourself in the pee pants club, you’ll want to keep reading.
While childbirth is one of the leading causes, there are many situations that can cause weakening or loss of control of your pelvic floor muscles (the muscles you use to hold urine). What must be considered is the whole “pressure system” of the body including:
- breathing and diaphragm
- pressure from poor form
- pelvic organ prolapse
- hormonal and endocrine effects (age-related changes, birth control, progesterone, etc.)
- genetic/collagen laxity
- excess abdominal weight
Just like Honest’s philosophy on achieving health and wellness, it’s best to take a holistic approach and look at the big picture. Are your daily habits fueling your symptoms? Certain behaviors can have a negative affect on your SUI symptoms and overall health, some include:
- drinking coffee
- eating fried foods
- exercising too vigorously
- sitting for extended periods of time
I’ve come up with a list of 10 reputable non-surgical treatments that can help you keep your drawers dry.
Reinforce your drawers!
In the interim while you are strengthening your pelvic floor muscles you will need a backup plan. I am not too proud to admit that I own several pairs of these icon undies and though I don’t need them as much since I’ve strengthened my core and pelvic muscles, I still wear them when I workout just for “pee”ace of mind. They are cute and comfortable and more importantly they will give you the confidence to jump rope your little heart out, because where your pelvic floor may be letting you down…your underoos have got your back. Additionally they are far more comfortable and cost effective than using pads.
Don’t just kegel yourself to death…hire a Pelvic PT
A Pelvic Physical Therapist (or physiotherapist) is your first stop to pelvic health. They specialize in working with the musculoskeletal and neuromuscular systems of the body. Here are two brief videos that will help you understand what they do and techniques they can help you employ.
Pelvic PTs can assess your situation and help you navigate the right route for your specific needs. Some options you’ll consider include:
Pelvic floor muscle training (PFMT) and PMFT with biofeedback
Most everyone knows about kegels, but surprisingly most people don’t know how to do them correctly. Ultimately an improperly performed kegel is as affective as a drop in your ocean of pelvic woes. A Pelvic PT can help you learn the correct way to do them and the proper posture to maintain. Additionally PMFT can include biofeedback, which is the use of electronic recorders (and sometimes written journals) to record contractions of your PFM or bladder muscles.
I know, I know, you’re not a golden retriever or a two year old, but this method can help you re-learn to hold your bladder for longer and longer periods of time by following a schedule that only allows you to go every 3 or 4 hours. The schedule can be specifically modified to meet your body’s needs.
Yes, it involves electricity but don’t freak out! What it entails is the insertion of a soft, silicone rubber tube that is attached to a battery operated unit that will send a small amount of electricity into the tube and the muscles surrounding it. This stimulates and tightens the muscles.
This includes sitting down on a chair filled with magnetic coils in or under the seat. An electric current is sent into the coil, creating a magnetic field that tenses and relaxes the muscles of the pelvis.
Percutaneous tibial nerve stimulation (PTNS)
PTNS uses a fine needle that is inserted near the ankle. Pulses of electricity are sent into the needle to travel through the tibial nerve (a nerve that runs up your leg and connects to nerves that control your bladder muscles).
Myofascial Release (MFR)
Remember that last article I wrote on the benefits of self-myofascial release? Well it can help with your pelvic health as well! MFR decreases the tightness and spasm in the pelvic floor muscles and tissues surrounding the bladder to regain normal function.
Don’t avoid drinking water
Staying hydrated is crucial during workouts, so don’t skimp on the H2O in an attempt to hold your water. Ironically, if you aren’t drinking water your urine will be much more concentrated and will irritate your bladder, signaling it to empty.
Skip the “just in case” bathroom breaks
Though it may seem counterintuitive, frequent bathroom breaks will actually signal the bladder to empty before it has achieved necessary fullness. So in essence, the more you pee…the more you’ll have to pee.
Remember, there isn’t a one-size-fits all cure. Work with your general practitioner and pelvic physical therapist to determine what’s the best fit for YOU.
So here’s to our quest for dryness and confidence when we sneeze, cough or jump! For those of you who might leak a little like me, I’m here for you. Do not feel embarrassed, we are in this together and there are lots of options in front of us. For those of you don’t have this issue and may be silently judging, you’ll likely understand one day…and this article will be waiting for you.
Ready to come jump rope with us at Honest Small Group Training? Sign up for a free week of classes here!