Have you ever found yourself dealing with surprise bladder leaks during workouts or while playing sports? Athletic incontinence is a common issue that often doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Let’s break the silence and dive into how it can impact your athletic performance and daily life.
In this blog, we’ll discuss athletic incontinence, what causes it, and how you can use non-invasive solutions (like Uresta) to elevate your game.
What is Athletic Incontinence?
Typically, when we think of urinary incontinence in women, we associate it with older women or those who have recently given birth. Yet, the reality is that urinary incontinence can affect a wide range of people, especially athletes who engage in high-impact activities.
This type of incontinence, otherwise known as “athletic incontinence,” doesn’t just affect athletes during high-intensity physical activity but also during their day-to-day lives. Studies have found that athletes are 2 to 3 times more likely to report urinary incontinence during daily activities than non-athletes.
*A quick note on the term “Athletic Incontinence”: In this blog, we use this terminology as an umbrella term to describe specifically urinary incontinence during exercise. However, experts like Doctor Ryan Davey caution against using the term athletic incontinence because it doesn’t help explain the root cause of the incontinence nor inform the proper treatment.
Common Causes of Athletic Incontinence
The most common type of athletic incontinence is stress urinary incontinence. Stress urinary incontinence is characterized by urine leakage during high-impact activities like coughing, sneezing or playing sports. But why are people typically associated with having strong, healthy muscles experiencing stress incontinence and other types of urinary incontinence?
Here Are the Most Common Causes of Athletic Incontinence:
- A Weak Pelvic Floor:
Pelvic floor muscles are crucial for the closure of the urethra, therefore playing an essential role in preventing urine leakage. If the pelvic floor is weak, then urine can leak out at inopportune times. Even physically fit women and athletes who actively engage in core strengthening through practices like Pilates and Yoga may experience pelvic floor weakness.
If your pelvic floor is overly active and tight all the time, it can lead to chronic fatigue of the muscles and slowed reaction when responding to a sudden stressor, such as a sudden sprint or jump.
- An Imbalanced Inner Core:
If the strength of your pelvic floor differs from that of your other core muscles, you may experience leakage during intense physical activity, but likely not in your day-to-day activities.
- Pelvic Floor Dysfunction Caused by Exercise-Induced Damage:
Exercise-induced damage can strain your pelvic floor muscles, leading to urinary leakage during intense physical activities that demand excessive pelvic floor endurance, such as CrossFit or gymnastics. While you may not experience day-to-day incontinence, these strenuous exercises can challenge pelvic floor function, causing occasional leakage.
Athletic Incontinence’s Impact on Athletes
Like most urinary incontinence, athletic incontinence can decrease the quality of life for those suffering from unplanned bladder leaks. Athletic incontinence can damage an athlete’s confidence, reduce their focus and hold them back from giving their all when it counts – something no athlete should ever have to do.
Luckily, there are effective pelvic floor exercises for bladder leaks and athletic incontinence products, which can act as very effective bladder leak treatments to prevent leakage up to 100% during high-impact activities.
How to Strengthen Pelvic Floor
As mentioned earlier, having strong pelvic floor muscles is crucial in preventing unwanted urine leakage. Pelvic floor exercises for bladder leaks, such as Kegel exercises, can help maintain a healthy pelvic floor. You can also follow these five habits for a healthy pelvic floor:
- Whole-body strengthening.
- Focus on healthy eating and sleep.
- Keep your tissues (vulva/vagina tissues) healthy and moisturized.
- Learn how to manage internal pressure.
- Be mindful of your pelvic floor habits. (Are you holding your breath while exercising?)
What Are Some Athletic Incontinence Products?
Pessary devices are one form of athletic incontinence products that are inserted into the vagina to help treat symptoms related to urinary incontinence. Pessaries are a simple, non-invasive solution for symptoms of incontinence experienced while playing sports and in day-to-day activities.
Uresta’s pessary device is clinically proven to reduce symptoms associated with athletic incontinence. It’s also a safe, simple, and effective long-term solution that will help you regain confidence when running, jumping and giving it your all. Uresta is also designed to be self-managed, offering more flexibility regarding use. Many female athletes use Uresta just when they are training and competing!
Moving Forward (and backwards, sideways or upwards!)
Women of all ages and backgrounds can experience urinary incontinence during athletic activities. Engaging in open and supportive conversations around urinary incontinence, and athletic incontinence in particular, will hopefully help remove the stigma and shame associated with unwanted bladder leaks while exercising.
Remember, If you’re dealing with symptoms associated with athletic incontinence, you’re not alone! Uresta offers a safe and effective bladder leak treatment to support you in regaining confidence during your workouts and sports.
Is Uresta right for you? Take our Free Assessment to find out!