Does your heart sink when your trainer calls for star jumps? Do you avoid lifting heavy weights? Does your golf swing make you anxious – especially towards the end of a round when you need to go to the loo?
If you pee while exercising, it’s likely that you’re experiencing stress incontinence. Stress incontinence happens when straining, lifting or jumping places excessive physical pressure on your bladder. This overrides the bladder sphincter’s ability to close and hold urine back, and causes you to leak involuntarily. From a dribble to a puddle, the amount you leak can depend on the level of exertion, and it’s the fear of the unknown that can hold you back.
But at the same time, excess body weight is a key contributor to bladder leaks, and exercise is good for your mental and physical wellbeing, so it’s important to keep active. Here are a few ways you can minimise the likelihood that your bladder will leak while you’re exercising, and feel confident that even if you do accidentally leak, you’ll be fully supported – without anyone having to know.
Minimise the risk of leaks while exercising:
Be mindful of what you drink before you exercise.
Coffee is a diuretic, which means that it causes the bladder to increase urine production. If you’re getting up early to go for a walk, skip that coffee beforehand. Similarly, if you’re jogging during your lunch break, avoiding a mid-morning coffee could be the difference between a leap and a leak.
Be mindful of what you eat before you exercise
Similarly to caffeine, spicy foods can trigger bladder leaks. Try to avoid foods that have even a small hint of spice (for example kransky sausages) before exercising, and if you know you’ll be getting up early to exercise first thing, avoid spicy foods the night before.
Do Kegel exercises as part of your routine
Wanting to control your bladder leakage? While you’re at the gym is a perfect time to do Kegel exercises! If you’ve been through pregnancy and childbirth, it’s likely that the term ‘Kegels’ is a familiar one. These are exercises that strengthen your pelvic floor, which is the area of tissues and muscles that act as a hammock to support the bladder, small intestine and rectum. When these muscles are strained or over-stretched, it can cause the bladder to lose control – but the good news is that, like any muscle, you can regain strength in this area.
Not familiar with Kegel exercises? Click here to find out how to do them.
See a pelvic floor specialist
Why not see a pelvic floor specialist as part of your exercise routine? They can give you the best advice on strengthening your inner muscles required for bladder control, giving you more confidence when it comes to staying active and fit.
It might seem to make sense that the less water you drink, the fewer accidents you'll have – however, the opposite is true. If you’re dehydrated, the liquid in your bladder becomes more concentrated and therefore more acidic, and this can make your bladder overactive as it tries to expel this extra acidity quickly, resulting in bladder leaks.
Manage accidental leaks:
Still feeling anxious about exercise? Here are a few other tips and tricks...
Wear dark clothing
Bladder leaks are annoying enough, without worrying that other people will notice. Enhance your peace of mind by wearing dark clothing on your bottom half.
Wear a pair of Confitex
Confitex underwear are perfect for catching leaks while you’re exercising. The three-layer technology wicks moisture away from your body, absorbs liquid, eliminates odour and provides a waterproof barrier between your body and your clothing. Plus, the fabrics are naturally breathable and designed to move with your body. Find out more here.
Focus on low-impact exercises for a while
Take a break from high-impact exercises while you’re building up your pelvic floor strength. This doesn’t mean decreasing the frequency of your exercise – it’s simply an opportunity to switch it up while you focus on regaining bladder control so you can get back to high-impact exercises when you feel confident. Instead of running, jumping and those pesky star jumps, try swimming, low-impact strength training and yoga.
Mental and physical wellbeing are incredibly important when it comes to bladder control – so don’t let bladder leaks hold you back from health and fitness!