Bladder leakage while running is common… Surprisingly common! If you’ve experienced it, you’re certainly not alone. Many women, especially pregnant and postpartum women, have experienced this unfortunate “surprise” that develops — often (seemingly) — out of the blue.
I received the following message from a FemFusion friend just the other day. She gave me permission to share her question (and my answer) with you, and even to use her real name (!!!). In her words, “I don’t care if you use my name! I feel like the more REAL issues are, the more NORMAL they are! Being a woman, especially a mom, is tough business!”
Mandy, you are a women’s health superstar. Thanks for putting yourself — and your question — out there to help others who are also experiencing bladder leakage while running.
Bri! Help! My baby is almost 10 months old, and I have taken her running a fair number of times.
Today, I started a Body Back class. We ran a timed mile; it was crazy and weird and fun! It felt so good in the aforementioned ways. Except for one thing. Pee. The constant, subtle release of pee. 😐
I’ve come to determine that running for fitness = okay, pushing myself = bladder leakage.
What do I do? Is there one of your fab books you can point me to? Or, a former blog post?
So Mandy… My dear… You’ve been running for fitness without significant issues, but when you REALLY PUSH YOURSELF, you’re leaking urine.
It sounds like — post-childbirth — you’ve recovered sufficient pelvic floor (PF) strength for “regular” (i.e. not too strenuous) runs and daily life. However, when your body is focused on OTHER THINGS, like pushing yourself as hard as you can, notching up the intensity, re-routing the majority of your blood flow to your heart, your lungs, and your legs for the work of a timed run… And then when you start developing some muscle fatigue on top of that… It’s like your PF has reached its limit and it says “no go. I’m done.”
When your PF reaches its limit, it can no longer hold back the urine. Hence bladder leakage during the HARD runs.
First off, have faith that this (likely) will get better now that you’re AWARE OF IT, and can work on it. A little bit of focused exercise and awareness does wonders… Knowledge is power, after all!
Steps you can take:
- Be sure that you PEE FULLY before your next hard run. Here’s a post about fully emptying your bladder WITHOUT PUSHING. If you don’t want to read the entire post, then here’s the takeaway tip: The next time you’re on the toilet, take your time and allow the urine to come out naturally, without pushing or straining (because pushing or straining can contribute to prolapse if done repeatedly, over time). When you think you’re done peeing, rock your pelvis forward and wait a second. A little more urine might dribble out. Then rock your pelvis back and wait a second. A little more might come. Keep rocking your pelvis forward and back SLOWLY until you don’t notice any more dribbling. Your bladder is now fully empty, and you didn’t have to push to make it so!
- Second, add a few more focused PF and core exercises into your daily routine. I suggest “omis,” my new favorite type of hip circle! They’re small, but they really activate the deep abs and the muscles around the pelvis, which will overflow to the activate the PF as well. Click here for an “omi” tutorial, and also keep in mind that my new e-course, The Circle Solution, is ALMOST READY TO BE RELEASED!!! This could be a nice way to add some feminine core strengthening to your daily fitness routine. Click here to join The Circle Solution waiting list.
- Third, do your kegels! Training your PF muscles to turn on a little “extra” when you need them most will help you during your hard workouts. You don’t need to do hundreds a day, certainly… But start with a solid 10-15 every day while you’re treating this condition. Corkscrew kegels are a fun way to get started (click here for the video). Note: Remember to relax FULLY between kegel reps. And also, remember to continue to do your other core strengtheners (for your abs, gluteal/butt muscles, etc…). It’s not JUST about the pelvic floor, the entire core needs to be strong and supple!).
- Most importantly — don’t worry too much about it. Ironically, emotional stress (including anxiety, fear, etc.) can contribute to stress incontinence!!!