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Incontinence & the Female Athlete

May 22, 2024 6:58 am

Being an athlete can mean many different things. For some, this means training for a marathon; for others, it's being able to jump on the trampoline with their kids. Both share a commonality with many athletic pursuits, as they are activities that can lead women to notice urinary incontinence. Research has found that about half of exercising women will experience urinary incontinence throughout their lifetime. But not to worry ladies, you are not alone and you can treat this!

What is it?

By definition, stress urinary incontinence is the involuntary loss of urine when there is an increase in abdominal pressure during moments of physical activity. This can include but is not limited to activities such as running, jumping, coughing, sneezing, laughing and transitioning from sitting to standing. For some, this causes women to avoid attending their favorite boot camp or wear only certain colors when exercising.

So...what causes this involuntary loss?

This is generally caused by pelvic floor dysfunction. The pelvic floor consists of three layers of muscles, ligaments, and fascia, that work together to provide sphincter control, support for the pelvic organs, stability for the pelvis and lower spine, and sexual function. Together, your pelvic floor, along with your diaphragm, deep abdominals and back muscles, make up your "core." Training these components together for proper strength and coordination can help treat incontinence.

Is it normal?

While incontinence with exercise may be common, it is not normal. When you have a strong and coordinated pelvic floor and proper form there is no need to leak.

What can I do to fix this?

If you are reading this and feel like it applies to you, don't worry, there is a treatment! Pelvic physical therapy could help you. Together with your physical therapist you can learn proper kegels to improve the strength, coordination and muscle tone of your pelvic floor, correct muscle imbalances contributing to the condition, discuss lifestyle choices that could play a part in the condition, and learn proper breathing mechanics.

Come see us to help you get back to the activities you love without leakage! Call or text 920.729.2982 to get started!

Tori Popp is a Doctor of Physical Therapy at PT Center for Women, 3232 Ballard Road, Appleton, WI 54911. To make an appointment with Tori call or text 920.729.2982.

PT Center for Women is one of the only physical therapy centers in Wisconsin that specializes in pelvic pain and pelvic muscle dysfunction, offering women of all ages comprehensive evaluation and treatment for their physical therapy needs.

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