Wrong. Peeing, even just a little bit, while working out is not normal. Your pelvic floor should be strong enough to support you through whatever exercise you’re doing without urine leaking.
As someone who has been involved in the CrossFit community, and the women’s gymnastics community, I’m no stranger to girls and women mentioning they pee a little bit when working out. For gymnasts, it’s often while tumbling. For CrossFitters it’s double unders, box jumps, and heavy lifts. While it’s great that this is coming up more in conversation, it gives the illusion that it’s normal, and it’s not. What’s worse, is the fear or embarrassment of this can lead some individuals to give up on activities they love.
Let’s back up a little bit and talk about the pelvic floor though. The pelvic floor functions to support the organs, control urine/feces, sexual health, and even help create spinal stability. Consequences of pelvic floor dysfunction can include urinary incontinence, fecal incontinence, constipation, low back pain, SIJ dysfunction, pelvic pain, pain during intercourse, and pelvic organ prolapse. All this to say, the pelvic floor is pretty important.
When it comes to leaking while working out, some people have been told to just do a Kegel because that will strengthen the pelvic floor. While Kegels can work on pelvic floor strength, one study found that 40% of patients given instruction for kegel were not effective at activating the pelvic floor muscles. Furthermore, there can also be leaking when the pelvic floor muscles are OVERACTIVE and have difficulty relaxing. In order to manage pressures with exercise the pelvic floor muscles need to be able to contract and relax, that’s why a cookie cutter approach and a sheet from your doctor on kegels is not the answer.
Pelvic floor physical therapy is more than just contracting and relaxing your pelvic floor muscles though. If you want to get back to running, lifting, and jumping, you have to work the pelvic floor with movement!
This is where seeing a professional comes in. There are physical therapists who specialize in pelvic physical therapy, and if you’re someone who leaks during a workout, the good news is that there’s strong evidence for improvements in symptoms with pelvic floor muscle training.
If you’re in the DMV area and struggling with leaking, returning to sport after pregnancy, or any other pelvic floor dysfunction reach out to Carrie Pagliano, check out her Instagram @carriepagliano, or you can search for a pelvic floor specialist in your area at https://aptapelvichealth.org/