A few years ago, a YouTube video about women peeing themselves during CrossFit competitions and training sessions made headlines, inspiring controversial conversation about the normalcy of urinary leakage during intense physical activity.
Many activities increase abdominal and pelvic floor pressure, such as coughing, sneezing and laughing. If the muscles aren’t strong enough, or if they are poorly coordinated, one may leak urine easily during exercise or any increase in abdominal pressure.
Your Pelvic Floor – The Basics
The pelvic floor is made up of 3 layers of muscles that must work together. These muscles support all the contents of your abdominal cavity including pelvic organs such as the bladder, uterus, and bowel. Furthermore, they close off sphincters that are the last line of defense if the deep muscles aren’t doing their job. Despite the important role of these muscles, they are oft forgotten or ignored in physical training programs.
Leaking Under Pressure
Stress incontinence is due to the muscles in your pelvic floor lacking the strength and endurance to do their job under quick or prolonged increases in abdominal pressure. Activities such as double-unders require repetitive jumping. Each time you land, the abdominal pressure increases substantially in that moment. This requires strength in the pelvic floor muscles to resist the increase in pressure which causes urine to leak.
What is the Core?
We work hard to train our bodies and be strong in our legs, arms, and core, but are we truly training our core? The “core” is actually made up of 4 walls – the abdominal muscles in the front, the diaphragm on the top, the deep back muscles in the back, and the pelvic floor muscles at the foundation. Many training programs address the abdominals and the deep back muscles, and if you coordinate breathing into your workouts, you may be training your diaphragm.
Breathing and Your Pelvic Floor
Here is a step by step on how to add some pelvic floor control during your exercise to avoid urine leakage:
- Inhale gently and fill your belly
- Exhale and pull your belly closer to the spine without moving your spine (avoid bearing down)
- Lift the pelvic floor as if you are trying to stop urine midstream or gas from escaping.
Adding pelvic floor exercises to your routine, and incorporating pelvic floor muscles into your exercises will improve overall strength, stability, and endurance throughout your body… and eliminate urinary leakage.
Despite what social media may suggest, urinary leakage during any activity is not normal, whether the activity is walking or doing a front squat. You are not alone in addressing the issue, either. See a medical professional to learn how to train your pelvic floor muscles with the rest of your body… So you can do double-unders and cleans without having to clean up the floor afterwards.
Article written by: Dea Dauphinee PT, DPT