Friday, March 20, 2015

Have Workout Pees?

Most women have experienced a case of the workout pees. Running, jumping rope and box jumps can sometimes cause leaking. Many women just chalk it up to childbirth and add it to the many ways our children have changed us for good. But we don't have to give up, wear black workout pants or stop jump roping for the rest of our lives. Why does this happen and what can us ladies do about it?

The official name for workout leakage is Stress Urinary Incontinence, or SUI. Our first reaction is to squeeze out a bunch of kegels but let's look more closely at the issue.

Julie Wiebe, a women's sports medicine physical therapist, says, "Incontinence is just one way of identifying a pelvic floor insufficiency. It is a signal that an imbalance in the deep core exists. The deep core is a closed-pressure system, and insufficiency in any component will impact the capacity of the whole. A female athlete may not be incontinent, but do they have any hip pain? Or low back pain? ..... Pain, joint instability and incontinence are all just signals that the system as a whole needs attention." She lists four factors that can lead to SUI:

* The muscles of the pelvic floor may be weak from childbirth or lack of exercise
* The muscles may be overactive but unable to relax, decreasing the strength of the contraction
* The pelvic floor muscles may be overactive and strong. A rigid thorax can't contain all the pressure from high-impact activities and the pressure escapes through the weakest link.
* The pelvic floor may have been damaged - episiotomy, forceps, cancer/radiation

In addition, chronic urinary tract infections can be contributors to SUI. A chronic cough or chronic constipation can be additional factors. Aging plays a part in SUI as does obesity. Certain foods and drinks can irritate the bladder. Prescription medications for other conditions can increase urine production and diabetes can cause nerve damage in the area.

If the muscles are overactive or the issue is with breath holding, kegels in isolation won't solve the problem. Central stability requires a balance of muscular strength and a neuromuscular strategy for engagement. The respiratory diaphragm, deep abdominal muscles (TA), spinal stabilizing muscles (multifidus), and the pelvic floor all need to work perfectly together to create core stability.

Next week, I will blog about treatment options.
Happy Spring - Move Your Body Outside This Week

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