Login
Register

Home

About Us

Diagnoses

Treatments

Classes

Resources

Media

Testimonials

Blog

Account

Blog
Register
Photo by Luis Quintero on Unsplash
Photo by Luis Quintero on Unsplash

Many people start like to start the new year off with exercise regimens and plans to lose weight.

Unfortunately, often times women who start exercise programs to lose weight also lose their ability to control of their bladders and experience urine leakage during physical activity, otherwise known as stress urinary incontinence (SUI).

So what makes certain exercises more leak-prone? Which exercises put less stress on your pelvic floor? Read on to find out.

Why would exercise make you leak?

One leading hypothesis for what causes stress urinary incontinence is that sudden increases in abdominal pressure can put stress on the pelvic floor muscles, reducing the muscles’ “elastic recoil” which a muscle’s ability to rebound after a sudden stretch, which can cause weakness and reduced performance. As we’ve talked before in our blog series about pelvic organ prolapse, when the pressure in the tummy is stronger than the supporting muscles, tissues and tendons, things tend to travel south. If you are doing high-intensity activities like sprinting, jumping, lifting, and crossfit, you may be increasing your abdominal pressure without enough pelvic floor support to help your organs from shifting.

High Impact Exercises and Increased Prevalence of SUI

In general, higher impact sports, such as basketball, volleyball, and tennis have a higher prevalence of urinary incontinence vs. lower impact sports such as swimming and pilates (de Mattos Lourenco, et al., 2018). A recent article by Yang et al. (2019) found that SUI prevalence is higher in women who participate in CrossFit vs. aerobics. Certain sudden movements, including jumping and sprinting, tend to cause more leakage than slower, steadily paced movements.

The following is a list of exercises found to have higher prevalence of SUI in study participants from both the Mattos Lourenco and Yang studies:

High Impact Exercises That Cause More Leakage:

  • Jumping rope and “double-unders”
  • Box jumps
  • Squats with weights
  • Trampoline jumping
  • Thrusters
  • Basketball
  • Football
  • Gymnastics
  • Tennis
  • Hockey
  • Judo
  • Running
  • Softball

Low impact activities with reduced pressure on the pelvic floor

  • Bodyweight training
  • Walking
  • Water aerobics
  • Roller blading
  • Cycling
  • Hiking
  • Pilates
  • Swimming

What You Can Do

Don't be afraid to exercise, the key is to pick the right exercises that don’t cause you leakage. Choose exercises that off the “just right challenge” to your body.

Participate in lower impact activities if you are leaking

Low impact activities have less prevalence of urinary incontinence. Activities like weighlifting, cycling, hiking, pilates, yoga, and swimming are examples of low impact activities. If you are in an aerobics class that requires a lot of jumping, modify the movement to stay stationary on the ground: an example would be instead of jumping jacks, you could do squats or alternate bringing one leg out at a time.

Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor

Are you doing low impact activities and still leaking? You might need to strengthen your pelvic floor. Don't know how? Check out the Femina blog for articles about kegels.

Still confused? Come see us! The pelvic floor therapists at Femina PT are ready to help, make an appointment today.

Exhale with Movement

One common cause of incontinence and increased intra-abdominal pressure is holding your breath. Breathe when you move! Avoid exercises that make you bear down and DO NOT hold your breath while exercising.

Try exhaling with the following activities:

  • Exhale with exertion during exercise. Examples: when you bring a hand weight up into a bicep curl, exhale. When you push up from a squat, exhale.
  • Exhale while lifting (weights, baby, groceries)
  • Exhale while pushing anything (luggage, strollers, trash can, shoveling)
  • Exhale while you are bending over during exercise (stretching)
  • Exhale while reaching overhead (pull-ups, weight lifting)

Steady Breath While you Exercise

Practice a steady breath throughout your entire exercise session. This will help regulate your abdominal pressure and the pressure placed on your bladder.

Some Tips:

  • Relax shoulders and upper chest
  • Breathe in slowly to fill the lungs fully
  • Breathe out slowly through the mouth or nose
  • If you are feeling winded, bring your heart rate back down until you can breathe easily again

Use a pelvic brace and do your pelvic floor exercises daily.

Don’t know what I’m talking about? Find a pelvic floor therapist to help you. Pelvic floor therapists are trained to fully assess what is going on in your body in order to fully understand what is contributing to any urinary incontinence.

Resources

De Mattos Lourenco, Matsuok, Baracat, Haddad. 2018. Urinary incontinence in female athletes: a systematic review. International Urogynecology Journal 29 (12):1757-1763.

Yang, J, Cheng, JW, Wagner, H, et al. The effect of high impact crossfit exercises on stress urinary incontinence in physically active women. Neurourology and Urodynamics . 2019; 38: 749– 756. https://doi.org/10.1002/nau.23912

What Our Patients Have to Say

Prev
Next

Testimonial by Julie T.

Femina PT (née Fusion Wellness & Physical Therapy) has honestly changed my life. Before receiving treatment at Femina, I was going doctor to doctor to try and find the answer to my pelvic pain. It has taken me YEARS to find someone that can help fix this. It wasn't until my gynecologist recommended your clinic that I finally felt relief. My pelvic pain is almost gone, and granted I still have a lot more to work on with Laureen (my PT), my original problem is nearly cured. I am so grateful to her.

What is even better is she gave me practical exercises to do at home that were not tedious and provided instant (and lasting) relief. Although I mainly work with Laureen, my interaction with the owner (Heather) has been great. She is very generous, kind, and committed to her business.

It hurts to know there are women out there suffering who will never know or have the opportunity to work with women like Laureen and Heather because this issue is hardly talked about and this field is so rare. I hope more doctors and physical therapists see the value in this work and can relieve more woman of their pain.

-- Julie T., 12/4/16 via Yelp!

Testimonial by Fritzette H.

I went to Heather after the birth of my third child. It was lucky, really, that I was referred to her, because my doctor had referred me to a surgeon for a possible hysterectomy or pelvic wall rebuild. Thankfully, I went to Heather before undergoing either surgery, she was able to fix the problem. She has studied extensively in women's health--even written a book about it--and was able to diagnose my problem, suggest a course of treatment (6 weeks), and then follow through with said treatment. By the end, as she said, I was as good as gold. Boy, was it worth it! Though uncomfortable to talk about, much less write about, it is worth getting the word out there. If you have painful intercourse, especially after birth or other trauma, the treatment may be as simple as Physical Therapy (with Heather, of course). I highly recommend her.

-- Fritzette H., 3/24/16 via Yelp!

Testimonial by Ann V.

I wish i could give this place 10 stars!! 
I have been suffering from vaginismus for 5 years and never found the cure to it. I had seen an ob/gyn and he diagnosed me with vaginismus and told me i needed a surgery to cure my condition, which i refused to do. He also referred me to a PT that he works with, i had given them multiple calls and they never responded back to me, so i started searching yelp for another PT. I am SO HAPPY I found Heather's office! I was working with Laureen, and with her guidance and techniques i was able to be cured from vaginismus in only 2 1/2 short months!!! I couldn't believe how quickly their program worked for me! I am forever grateful and thankful from Heather, and Laureen! They are the absolute best at what they do!

Read more: Testimonial by Ann V.

Testimonial by Carolina J.

I had tried Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy before (with another PT) and I had a really bad (painful) experience. A friend of mine and fellow patient, told me about Heather, Laureen and Femina PT (née Fusion Wellness & Physical Therapy) and I decided to try again. I am so happy I did! Femina PT have, literally, changed my life. I was able to do again things I couldn't do for over 10 years!! Their bedside manners are impeccable, their knowledge and understanding make me feel comfortable to recommend this place to anyone in pain. Specially if you have Endometriosis. 100% recommended!!

-- Carolina J., 12/28/16 via Yelp!

Testimonial by R.D., age 38

"I had a severe tear during childbirth that was not stitched together correctly and therefore healed poorly. Even after having a surgery a year later to remove the scar tissue, I was still having pain, and no one could explain why -- there was no overt 'reason' to explain the pain. I had tried other 'specialists' and even saw another physical therapist who had me do hip / leg stretches -- what a joke! I was about to give up and just 'live with it' until thankfully I kept searching online and found Heather.

Read more: Testimonial by R.D., age 38

Testimonial by J.H.

My last appointment with Heather was over 6 years ago but I still think of her every day. I don’t take for granted that I can easily get out of bed, care for my two active and busy young boys, run, play tennis, clean my house, or sit at a desk for several hours at a time. None of these tasks were easy for me before meeting Heather. Eight years ago my car was struck from behind by a tractor trailer that was estimated to have been speeding. I spent 3 years working with different PTs and Drs trying to heal and move on with my life. When I became pregnant and the hormone relaxin that “relaxes” all the joints of the body and the additional weight gain erased all my progress and I was suddenly in a lot of pain again. My OB sent me to Heather for one last try.

Read more: Testimonial by J.H.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Get access to our free downloads and a 15% discount on Heather's book "Sex Without Pain"!
captcha 
I agree with the Terms and Conditions and the Privacy policy