Runner’s incontinence

Do you leak every time you run?

Do you leak every time you jump?

Do you leak every time you go down slope?

You could be suffering from Runner’s incontinence.

Why leaking when running?

Every time you run, the intra-abdominal pressure pushes down against the pelvic floor.

The pelvic floor muscles are the layer of muscles that support the pelvic organs:  bladder, bowel and uterus in women. It spans the bottom of the pelvis but because it is a thin muscle, it tires easily and can no longer hold urine in.

Causes of weak pelvic floor: 

  1. Pregnancy
  2. Supporting the weight of the uterus during pregnancy
  3. Abdominal separation (diastasis rectus) during pregnancy
  4. Vaginal childbirth
  5. Obesity
  6. Chronic constipation
  7. Constant coughing
  8. Surgery that require cutting the pelvic floor muscles
  9. Lower levels of estrogen after menopause

Symptoms of weak pelvic floor:

  1. Leaking small amounts of urine when coughing, sneezing, laughing, running or jumping
  2. Failing to reach the toilet in time
  3. Passing gas from either the anus or vagina when bending over or lifting
  4. Reduced sensation in the vagina
  5. Tampons that dislodge or fall out
  6. A distinct bulge at the vaginal opening
  7. A sensation of heaviness in the vagina

Weak Pelvic floor due to pregnancy

If you have had given birth vaginally, the pelvic floor muscles might have been overstretched, causing them to be weak and thus leakage happens.

Our experienced Women’s Health Physiotherapist can test the strength of the pelvic floor manually to see if there’s any asymmetry in sensation and strength in both sides of the pelvic floor. She will differentiate between deep pelvic floor muscles and superficial pelvic floor muscles strength. She will also test the strength mechanically with a Biofeedback machine, so that an accurate measurement can be recorded before and after treatment.

Treatment would include electric stimulation, Kegel exercises, Reformer Pilates exercises, and mat Pilates as home exercise.

What about Abdominal Separation?
Another cause of incontinence is abdominal separation (diastasis rectus). During pregnancy, your abdomen splits open for the growing belly. After giving birth, unfortunately the abdomen does not repair itself.

Our Women’s Health Physiotherapist can assess the severity of the abdominal separation and prescribe tailor made Reformer Pilates exercises to mend back the abdominal separation.

Even after you have given birth 10 or 20 years ago, the abdominal separation can still be mended.

Once the abdominal separation is mended, there would be less intra-abdominal pressure pushing down on the pelvic floor, and with strong pelvic floor muscles, there would NO LONGER be any leaking.

Solution for Runner’s incontinence

First, strengthen the pelvic floor.

Second, mend the abdominal separation.

If you only treat the weak pelvic floor but not the abdominal separation, then you will only have temporary relief because you have not treated the root cause of the problem.

This is the reason why the combination of pelvic floor muscles strengthening, and abdominal separation mending is the best solution for Runner’s incontinence or any other type of incontinence.

5 tips for Runner’s incontinence

  1. Avoid drinking too much fluid before running
  2. Avoid drinking coffee and caffeinated tea before running. You can drink it after running
  3. Empty your bladder before running
  4. Wear proper running shoes with good shock absorption in order to minimize the shock to your knee joints and minimize the pressure on the pelvic floor
  5. Run on running track or treadmill instead of pavement

Book a session with our friendly physiotherapists for an in depth assessment.

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