Real Talk for Women.
Admittedly before most workouts, I get nervous and feel like I need to use the restroom. I really don’t think it is because I actually have to pee – I just get anxiety about the idea of needing to go in the middle of a workout or actually going while working out. I know this can’t only be something I struggle with, so it was nice to read over on WellxGood about how it is way more common than I thought. I haven’t actually peed while working out, it only looks like I have peed my pants after I have worked out due to how I sweat. This is always a fun look when needing to run some errands right afterward.
If you can relate to having the urge or having a few drips to even maybe a bit more, keep reading to know you are not alone, it can be normal and this is why.
A little leakage is totally normal
First of all, you may hear the issue referred to as light bladder leakage (LBL). The scientific term is “stress incontinence,” which refers to pee escaping for any reason—a laugh, sneeze, physical exertion (like working out), or even no obvious trigger at all. It’s the most common involuntary bladder condition.
“One in three women will experience it at some point in their lives,” says Dr. Jessica Shepherd, an OB/GYN who partnered with Poise to educate consumers on the topic. “It’s definitely more common once you’ve had children, but there’s a misconception that if you haven’t had kids you don’t have bladder leakage. I’ve gotten to asking women in my practice if they’re experiencing it.”
“One in three women will experience it at some point in their lives.”
Women who engage in high-impact, high-intensity workouts (cough, CrossFit, cough) are more likely to experience stress incontinence, she says, and women who are athletes for a long period of time may see an increase in incidence—up to 43 percent of dancers and athletes have involuntarily peed during workouts, according to research. The unsurprising common denominator? The activity most likely to provoke leakage was jumping.
How to fix your fitness leakage
So what can women do, other than swearing off jumping jacks? Products like Icon’s underwear certainly provide immediate help—so can skipping coffee before cardio, as caffeine has been found to contribute to the problem.
But the key to minimizing future leakage lies in strengthening hard-to-reach muscles that support your urinary system. Dr. Shepherd refers patients to pelvic physical therapists, who “actually identify and isolate the muscles that may be contributing to the incontinence and recommend specific exercises.”They’re likely to prescribe kegels, but solving the problem requires more than clenching.
They’re likely to prescribe kegels, but solving the problem requires more than clenching.
Yes, they’re likely to prescribe kegels, but solving the problem requires more than clenching, explains Maya Jocelyn, founder of Brooklyn’s Studio Maya. Activating your deep-core abdominals is essential to the trainer’s fitness method. “We work on the pelvic floor like any other muscle, to increase our ability to more powerfully engage it,” she says.
The exercises she says can help head off stress incontinence involve strengthening the transverse abs (as opposed to the rectus abdominous, AKA six-pack muscles) in conjunction with the pelvic-floor muscles and diaphragmatic breathing.
Seeking out a private session with a trainer who specializes in deep-core work—or at least going consistently to a class that focuses on these muscle groups—will be key. The good news? “People notice significant changes within weeks, definitely,” Jocelyn says. Which means you’ll have your look-at-me leggings back in rotation in no time.