Bladder leakage with exercise is NOT normal.
I had the opportunity to help a patient awhile back. Let’s call her Ashley. When I met Ashley, she told me her story, an all too common tale for many women. Here’s her story…
Ashley is a 31 year old mother of two kiddos under the age of 3. Her youngest was born 6 months prior to the time she came in to see me.
In the past, she exercised a few days per week varying her activity from walks around her neighborhood, to boot camp and strengthening classes at the gym, to the occasional run.
At 6 weeks postpartum, when she was cleared to return to exercise from her OB/GYN, she returned to regular walks pushing a double stroller. Her body felt pretty good overall.
At around 8 weeks postpartum, she returned to the gym for her first boot camp class. She realized quickly how little strength she had in her body, especially her abdomen. What startled her most was that she could not seem to do any jumping exercises without a trickle of urine coming out.
Ashley fully admitted she figured the leakage was a fluke- maybe she hadn’t emptied her bladder fully, or she drank too much water before class… but it wasn’t a fluke.
Ashley explained to me that her urinary leakage continued to happen every time she would jump during boot camp— jump squats, jumping jacks, even with mountain climbers. Then she noticed leaking urine when she would cough or sneeze. Her problem seemed to be getting worse, not better.
She was frustrated.
She couldn’t exercise like she wanted to, nor could she let out a cough or sneeze without fear she would pee herself. She eventually stopped going to boot camp classes and started wearing a pantyliner “just in case.”
Then one day, scrolling through social media, she read a post on how physical therapy could help with bladder issues. She figured it wouldn’t hurt to try. That’s when she called me at 6 months postpartum.
She told me her goal was to be free of leakage again— to not leak urine when she jumped, coughed, or sneezed. She wanted to return to bootcamp classes 2 times per week and potentially run a 5k in the future. She did not want to wear a pad every day. She did not want to feel limited by her bladder problems.
Ashley met with me for weekly appointments to start, then phased down to appointments every few weeks as she saw improvement in her urinary leakage. We worked together on focused strategies and exercises to target her specific problem areas.
By the end of our time together, she wasn’t leaking any longer with a cough or sneeze. Ashley had returned to boot camp classes without fear of bladder problems.
Ashley told me at her final visit, “I am so grateful that I found pelvic physical therapy. No woman should have to live in fear of her bladder. And I’m thankful I no longer have to.”
If you have a story similar to Ashley, we want you to know that you are not alone. 1 in 3 women will experience bladder leakage some time in their lifetime. You DO NOT need to live with it. Pelvic Physical Therapy can help. If you are experiencing bladder leakage with exercise, contact us at 636-225-3649 to set up a free discovery session to see if Pelvic Physical Therapy is right for you.
Do you need more zzzz’s? Or just better quality sleep??
If you’ve answered yes to the questions above then keep reading! Adequate sleep is essential for good health. Having healthy sleep habits is referred to as good sleep hygiene. If you would like to have better sleep hygiene resulting in improved sleep, then consider following some of these sleep practices below:
- Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. Easier said than done, but studies show that consistent sleep and wake times will help to set your natural biological clock.
- Set the environment to promote good sleep. Use your bed for only sleep and sexual activity to help train your body that if you are in bed, you should be sleeping. Keep the temperature of the room comfortable. Avoid eating or working in your bed. Lower the light and noise in the room. Use earplugs or eye masks if necessary to drown out uncontrollable noise or light.
- Avoid using light emitting electronics at least 30 minutes prior to bedtime. The blue light coming from your television, tablet, phone, etc. can disrupt sleep by suppressing melatonin production.
- Exercise earlier in the day. Moderate or vigorous exercise should be done at least 2-3 hours prior to bedtime. Exercise stimulates the body and brain, making it hard to fall asleep. Regular exercise has been shown to improve sleep, so keep moving, just preferably not in the few hours before bedtime.
- Avoid drinking alcohol or smoking 3 to 4 hours before bedtime. Nicotine in cigarettes acts as a stimulant that can make it difficult to fall asleep. Some believe that alcohol will relax the body before bedtime and help with sleep. Actually, it can increase the number of times you wake up during the night and make you wake earlier.
- Create a relaxing bedtime routine for yourself. A relaxing routine may include taking a warm bath, deep breathing, meditating, guided relaxation, doing some light reading, or even a yoga or stretching routine.
- Avoid heavy meals and fluids. Excessively drinking or eating a large meal 2-3 hours before bedtime to allow plenty of time for your body to digest.
- Avoid taking daytime naps. If you have to nap, limit the time you sleep during the day to 30 minutes so you are tired enough in the evening.
- Most everyone has the occasional sleepless night, but if you consistently have problems sleeping after trying to improve your sleep hygiene, it is best to contact your doctor or health professional.
Here’s to you getting more restful sleep. We find that for many people pain issues and/or their bladder may be a disrupting factor during the night. If you find yourself unable to sleep secondary to pain or woken up several times a night because of your bladder then give us a call to find out more about how we may be able to help! 636-225-3649
School’s back in session, and that means homework, tests, sports, extra curriculars, and hustle and bustle added to life. Make life a little easier for you and your kiddos with “Back to School Wellness With Essential Oils.” Get some pointers on how to get restful sleep, more focus while studying, soothe achy muscles, and more!
Tuesday August 15th 7pm
at Legacy Physical Therapy
2961 Dougherty Ferry Road Suite 105 Saint Louis 63122
Register for this FREE event at 636-225-3649 firstname.lastname@example.org
Wow! We had an amazing response to our last blog post about rehabbing the mummy tummy. If you missed it, please check out our take on the importance of considering many factors when rehabilitating the postpartum core and/or diastasis recti, before reading on.
Diastasis recti is a separation of the abdominal muscles that commonly happens with pregnancy. For some women this separation heals back up without much effort after delivery. However, many women still have a diastasis recti months or years after delivery.
“How do I know if I have a diastasis recti?” This is a question that we get asked all the time. There is a simple test that you can perform yourself to determine if you have a separation of your abdominal muscles? Check out our quick how-to video.
How to Test for a Diastasis Recti?
So, did you perform the test? Do you have a separation of the abdominal muscles? If you had trouble telling if you had a diastasis recti, please contact us at Legacy Physical Therapy for a free discovery session to help you.
Or maybe you performed the test and you realized that you do have a diastasis recti. Now what? There are things that you can do to rehab your core whether you are 6 weeks, 6 months, or 6 years postpartum. Call us to discuss your findings with one of our experienced women’s health physical therapists. We are here to help.
Yesterday my Facebook feed was inundated with multiple shares of this NPR article titled, “Flattening The ‘Mummy Tummy’ With 1 Exercise, 10 Minutes A Day.” After all, with a title like that who wouldn’t want to click on the article and and learn what seems to be such a simple fix for diastasis recti. The trouble is that the “Fix” is never this simple.
While I appreciate the awareness this article is bringing to the topic of diastasis recti and recovery of the partpartum core, Diastasis recti is far more complex than any one single exercise for one single muscle. Diastasis recti is not just about the abs, but moreover is about full body alignment and optimal intra-abdominal pressure regulation. One of the things that I talk to my patients about all the time is that I can give them the world’s best abdominal exercise program to perform 10-20 minutes a day, but what they are doing the other 23 hours and 40-50 minutes makes a bigger difference to their diastasis recti.
Core muscle function is so much more than static recruitment of a single abdominal muscle. Your transverse abdominal muscles, pelvic floor muscles, diaphragm, and deep back muscles form your deep core canister. They all work together to provide anticipatory stability. So few women realize that their breathing pattern is connected to their abdominal wall performance and their pelvic floor muscle function. My colleague, Julie Wiebe PT has a wonderful video about how all these muscles coordinate together on her webpage. Check it out. If we do not consider breathing pattern when rehabbing a diastasis recti, we are missing a big part of the picture. Chronic drawing in of the abdominal wall is not the answer! If we squeeze in the middle all the time, what are we doing to our pelvic floor down below… setting it up for issues down the road.
The research on diastasis recti is emerging and evolving. There is no way to prevent it during pregnancy by doing an exercise. It is a normal part of many women’s pregnancies. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely things that you can do before and during your pregnancy to reduce your risk of a large diastasis recti and improve overall core function and support. However there other factors such as one’s genetics, overall tissue laxity, number and proximity in time of pregnancies, and singleton versus multiple pregnancy to name a few.
What’s a Woman to Do?
While this article is good to raise awareness, it barely scratches the surface of what is really needed to address the postpartum core rehabilitation. My best advice is to seek the care of a women’s health physical therapist to do a full assessment of core support system. At Legacy Physical Therapy, we see women all the time who think they are doing the right thing to rehab their core, but find that despite performing the exercises their symptoms are getting worse. If you cannot get to see a women’s health physical therapist, then please do your research when searching for solutions online. Below is a list of some of my favorite go to sites.
- Julie Wiebe PT
- Mutu System
- Brianna Battles – Everyday Battles
- Jessie Mundell
- Healthy Habits Happy Moms
If you think that you are dealing with a diastasis recti or postpartum core weakness, we can help. Give us a call at 636-225-3649 to chat with one of our women’s health physical therapist to see how we can help. If you are not sure if you have a diastasis recti and want to be checked by a professional, call us to set up a free screening appointment. We are happy to help.
So you may or may not remember, but back in May 2011 I challenged each one of you to up your fitness level. My personal challenge was to train for and run the inaugural St. Louis Rock N Roll Half Marathon. The results are in….
I DID IT!!!!
On Sunday October 23, 2011, I completed my first half marathon. I did not end up running it like I originally planned, but instead I walked the whole thing with my mom! We finished in just over 3 hours.
In the process of training for the race, my husband, Matt, and I successfully convinced his father, Roger, my mother, Laura, and my best friend, Omayra to come into town and run/walk the half as well. It was fun to have a group there, even though we all finished at different times.I am definitely feeling the effects of the race on my legs and probably still will for the next few days, but for the most part I am doing well post-race.
I would try a half marathon again, but I still have no desire to do a full. Who knows, maybe next year I will try to do the half in a sub – 3 hour time! That might require me doing some running though! In the meantime, I will keep up with my walking and maybe sign up for some shorter distance races!! The main idea is to STAY ACTIVE!!!