Peeing while exercising?Here’s how to handle it

YesYou know what happens when a big sneeze catches you off guard and suddenly you pee a little? Urinary incontinence or leakage occurs when you lose control of your bladder and the ability to hold your urine.

“This can be caused by a myriad of problems, such as pelvic organ prolapse or actual problems with nerve function in the bladder,” says Amelia Ponchur, lead physical therapist at Genesis PT & Wellness in Dallas, Texas. Specialized in Pelvic Health and Repair. Urine leakage can also be due to urge incontinence, where you rush to the bathroom but can’t make it in time.

When it happens with other movements such as sneezing or coughing, laughing, jumping, running or writhing, it is most likely stress incontinence, an action that puts pressure on the bladder, causing a small amount of urine to flow out. “Your nervous system and certain muscles don’t coordinate well with each other and can’t handle the force or pressure being applied, so this can cause urine to flow out of the urethra,” she explains.

It’s all too common in sports, with HIIT training, running, and weightlifting being the top three culprits. Anytime you experience high impact from jumping or plyometrics, such as high knees, hill climbing, or squats and tucks, you are more susceptible.

Exercises most likely to make you pee

squat jump

Due to the required biomechanics, squats can lead to a greater risk of leakage. “Increased downward gravity on the pelvic floor causes additional work by the pelvic floor in force absorption and coordination of muscle groups, which can lead to leakage,” says Dr. Ponchur.

To minimize the risk of water leaks during squat jumps, try this:

  1. Inhale as you squat, keeping your ribs stacked against your pelvis.
  2. Exhale as you enter the jump and continue to exhale until you land.
  3. When you hit the ground, don’t stop suddenly and hit the floor, but “absorb” into the next squat.

Do not use Kegel exercises when doing squat jumps. “It’s not needed for proper pelvic floor action during this activity,” says Dr. Ponchur.


Due to rapid acceleration, how much muscle recruitment is required, and the need for oxygen, sprinting can cause you to urinate during your run. “Here, an increase in oxygen demand/aerobic activity leads to changes in breathing mechanisms (such as more mouth breathing and less oxygen into the lungs) and often less appropriate diaphragmatic breathing,” Dr. Ponchur said.

The increased hip flexion required for proper sprint form also increases the risk due to changes in the position of the pelvis, as does getting off the ground quickly, which results in more strength and work on the pelvic floor muscles.

That said, sprinting, other running, and walking all have an impact on the pelvic floor and hips to some extent due to the impact our feet have on the ground. “They’re all interconnected; if your feet/ankles can’t do something, your pelvic floor and/or hip muscles will have to compensate for that to try and achieve the goal/movement you’re trying to do,” Dr. Ponchur Say. This compensation may also put more pressure on your pelvic floor.

barbell squat

The requirement to place the barbell on your shoulders can cause your ribs to open up (as if you were pushing your chest forward), which can increase intra-abdominal pressure and lead to poor pelvic floor pressure management and leakage.

The risk also increases as you gain weight. Make sure to keep your breath and form to limit leaks as much as possible. In each squat, inhale on the way down and exhale on the way up. “Generally, you want your feet to be hip-width and parallel, and it’s okay to let your knees drift over your toes,” says Dr. Ponchur.

Really, any major compound weightlifting exercise like this increases your risk of leaking urine because it requires more core and pelvic floor work, and increases intra-abdominal pressure.

jumping jack

Another plyometric exercise, jack-jumping can cause leaks due to increased gravity and increased hip abduction (moving the legs sideways and causing the pelvic floor to lengthen) and speed. move. “All of this puts more work on the pelvic floor, which can lead to leakage if your pelvic muscles can’t handle it,” says Dr. Ponchur.

You can try not to spread your legs that wide, or use your breath to synchronize the jump with your exhale, she says. “Or just slow down to improve the reaction time of the pelvic floor muscles,” she adds.

So how do you avoid urinating while exercising?

If you find leaking a problem, consider using a lighter weight until you have more control over your core. “Reducing the weight reduces the effort and effort required for the entire core and pelvic floor, making it easier,” says Dr. Ponchur.

Diaphragmatic breathing during training can also have a huge impact. “Diaphragmatic breathing is key to proper stress management and promotes the proper pelvic floor range of motion that we need for good core function,” she explains.

Here’s how:

  1. Inhale through your nose for about two to four seconds as your ribs move laterally.
  2. Exhale through your mouth (as if you were blowing through a straw), counting at least twice as long as you inhale, which is about four to eight seconds.

Prioritizing core work—including the pelvic floor that makes up the bottom of your core—can also help you build the strength you need to function properly. “The job of the core is to pressurize (aka stabilize) your torso so your limbs can leave the solid base,” says Dr. Ponchur. “So anything that creates an interruption or mismatch in pressurization can lead to a leak.”

What about Kegels? Kegels are contractions of the pelvic floor muscles, which basically means keeping the muscles tense.While Dr Ponchur says kegels can be important, she believes they are often overemphasized and seen as if only Treat pelvic floor problems. “Actually, I rarely tell people Kegels for their PF problems,” she says. Kegels can backfire if you don’t have them in their proper form, or if you think they’re the only solution available, so you’ll never find a real solution.

How do you actually activate your pelvic floor properly? Find and follow up here:

One product that can provide temporary relief is a pessary, a prosthetic device inserted into the vaginal canal to help treat urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. Basically, it is similar to a tampon.

“There are over-the-counter brands like Revive or Poise Impressa, which look a bit like a tampon, or you can get a special fit by a healthcare professional,” says Dr. Ponchur. “It’s not something I recommend often because I usually like to exhaust my other options first.”

Before investing in any product, the best thing to do is to get an evaluation through a pelvic floor PT, says Dr. Ponchur. They will be able to recommend a solution that is right for you.

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