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Myth Busting: Urinary Leakage and Exercise

I put "write an outline for a blog post about urinary leakage and exercise" into Gemini (google's version of ChatGPT) to start writing this blog post. As I read through what it spit out in just 5 seconds, I knew I was going to be writing the entirety of this post myself. The AI generated post was full of myths that need to be busted. So today I will be bringing you the FULL story on urinary leakage and exercise.

contemplating jump rope

I commonly work with patients who leak with running, box jumps, jumping rope, and heavy lifting. Usually these patients take two paths: one is to totally avoid the thing that makes them leak, and the other is to just ignore the leaking and keep exercising. Neither is a perfect solution for your pelvic floor - and there are things to do to improve the symptoms AND your performance.

Myth #1: urinary leakage is just something that happens and you'll have to live with after kids.

FACT: While urinary incontinence (leakage) is common after childbirth, it isn't normal, and there are lots of different things to do to improve leakage in general, and with exercise.

Myth #2: the only way to stop urinary leakage with exercise, is to switch to a less-impact form of exercise.

FACT: The common suggestion of "just do walking, swimming, or yoga to solve your leaking issues" isn't fixing anything, it's just ignoring and avoiding the problem. While walking, swimming, and yoga are all great options for exercise, they serve different purposes. Plus, you might enjoy other forms of exercise better.

The key to improving symptoms with an activity is to determine the root cause, and then progressively work back to where you want to be. Sometimes this might mean walking instead of running, but also looking at running form, strength, and mobility to ensure your body is able to handle running. Improving your form, muscle coordination, endurance, and even exercise programming can make a major difference.

Myth #3: pelvic floor exercises (kegals) are the best exercise for those with urinary leakage.

FACT: While being able to contract your pelvic floor in isolation (a kegal) is a good skill to have, doing endless kegals isn't necessarily going to help your pelvic floor. For some folks, an overactive pelvic floor is actually the underlying cause for leakage, so doing tons of strengthening work can actually make symptoms worse.

A one-size-fits-all approach to treatment is not going to help everyone. Don't be discouraged if one exercise you found on social media doesn't work for you. A personalized treatment plan that actually meets your needs will be the thing to help.

Myth #4: if I drink less water, I'll have less leakage.

FACT: Drinking less water to stop urinary leakage is like turning the water off when there is a hole in the hose. You aren't fixing the issue, just ignoring it. Plus, being dehydrated could actually be contributing to symptoms. More concentrated urine is actually a bladder irritant, and could make you need to pee more often. Our whole body works better with proper hydration levels!

Are you ready to do something about your leakage? Give us a call today so we can help you with a personalized plan.

Disclaimer: This blog post is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with a qualified healthcare professional for personalized guidance.


About the author: Dr. Caitlyn Hauswirth-Varis, PT, DPT, OCS, CFMT, CF-L1

Caitlyn Hauswirth-Varis

Caitlyn is a pelvic health expert and board certified orthopedic physical therapist. Beyond her PT degree and accolades, she is a Pregnancy and Postpartum Exercise Specialist, a CrossFit coach, and a running coach. She has worked with numerous athletes postpartum and helped them return to the sport they love, without leaking!

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