Lately, we’ve had a bunch of clients coming in and talking about bladder leakage when they work out.
We hear things like, ‘I just don’t jump rope anymore, because I know I’m going to leak’
‘I always wear a heavy pad on plyometric day’
‘Even if I pee right before I work out, I still have bladder leakage when I do any kind of jumping.’
Leaking with exercise, especially jumping, is not normal. It’s common, but it’s not normal. It’s not a sign that you’re working super hard and you should just keep pushing through it. It is a sign of dysfunction in your pelvic floor and in your core support system and there’s things that you can do about it.
Please do not assume that you just have to wear a pad and push through it, and please, please don’t stop working out because of bladder leakage. We need to be active. One of the main things that I see happen to many women is that they get less and less active because they are either worried that they’re going to leak, or that because they do leak when they do activities that they used to love. They start out by saying ‘Oh, well I just won’t do any of the jumping stuff,’ and then it progresses to ‘Well, even when I lift I leak some so I just won’t do any lifting.’ Then they may say, ‘Now even when I walk for exercise, I leak… so, I won’t do that anymore,’ and we see people get less and less active and that has so many detrimental effects.
We want to make sure that you stay active and dry. Today we’re going to talk specifically about some tips that you can do to avoid or prevent bladder leakage when you are doing jumping activity- we’re talking about jumping rope, jumping jacks, box jumps, hurdle jumps, anything like that.
1. Strengthen the Pelvic Floor
The pelvic floor is the bowl of muscles on the bottom of the pelvis. They help to support our pelvic organs. They help to make sure that we don’t pee and poop on ourselves when it’s not time to pee and poop on ourselves. These muscles have lots of jobs. You may have heard the term Kegel exercise, and that is a contraction of the pelvic floor.
That’s when we squeeze the pelvic floor and they lift up and into our body. Now, we’re not designed to squeeze these muscles all day long. We have some people that say, ‘I’m worried that I’m going to be leaking, so I’m just going to hold them tight like this all day long.’
That does not work. If I wanted to get my hands stronger, I would not hold them tight all day long. That’s not going to work, it’s just going to make my hands hurt. We need to be able to contract and relax the muscles. If you’re having trouble even finding the pelvic floor muscles, you may need to partner up with the pelvic floor physical therapist. For those of you who are having a good time being able to find your pelvic floor muscles, we may need to just make sure that they are strong enough. Doing some Kegel exercises throughout the day may be helpful.
Try to contract and hold the pelvic floor muscles for five seconds at a time, then let them relax. Having a strong pelvic floor will help accept the load from jumping.
2. Don’t Hold Your Breath
A lot of people, whether they mean to or not, start to hold their breath when they jump. When you hold your breath, you turn your trunk into a pressurized soda can and it ends up putting a lot more pressure down through the pelvic floor. That means those muscles have to work even harder to avoid or prevent leaking from happening. We should be breathing when we’re jumping. It doesn’t have to be an inhale and exhale, but you should be able to talk a little bit while jumping. If you find that you’re holding your breath when doing jumping activities, stop, and see if you can start breathing while you’re jumping. That may be enough to eliminate the pressure in the trunk canister and the pressure down on the pelvic floor so that you don’t have leakage.
3. Check Your Posture
Another thing that you can do to try and avoid leaking with jumping is to check your posture. When we jump, a lot of times we have a tendency to lean back. When we do that lean back, it tips our pelvis back, so we take all of the force down through our pelvic floor. If we actually create a little bit of a forward lean, then we get to take some of the force of the jump down through our pubic bone instead of it all going through our pelvic floor. Check your posture and see if you are leaning backwards when you are jumping.
4. Check Your Landing
When we are jumping, there can be a lot of very hard and forceful pounding down. Try to land soft. We want you to try and pretend that you are landing on eggs and you don’t want to crack them. That means you’re going to let your knees be soft and you’re going to try for very soft land. That will help to minimize some of the pressure again down through the pelvic floor area. Again, that may be all it takes to help avoid leaking while jumping.
If you go out there and you try this and you’re still having leakage issues, you may need to partner up with the pelvic physical therapist. We can assess what is going on with your muscles that is preventing you from staying dry while exercising.