I met a woman this weekend at an event. Upon finding out what I do for a living, she shared with me that she has had to completely stop exercise due to very large amounts of bladder leaking. I told her that is not normal, not healthy and that seeing a pelvic physical therapist would stop her incontinence and allow her to return to exercise. She replied, “But I told my doctor and he said it was just the result of having children.” I politely told her how wrong her physician was. Unfortunately, many women are told to live with urinary incontinence every day. It stops them from exercise, from social outings, from intimacy with their significant others and greatly impacts their mental health. As the steam settled from my ears, I explained how physical therapy could help.
Incontinence During Exercise
Stress incontinence during exercise is common, roughly 1 in 3 women experience it. However, it is not normal. Leaking urine is a sign of muscle imbalance. Just like knee or hip pain would indicate a weakness in the system, so does incontinence. Yet we don’t always seek help for incontinence. Maybe because it is embarrassing? Or we excuse it as just part of motherhood. Or we are lead completely astray by the medical community that surgery is the only answer. Please ladies, can we stop this madness? Tell your doctor you leak, and when they discourage you from any answers tell them you want to see a pelvic physical therapist. As a physical therapist, I see women everyday who leak urine with exercise. And every day I discharge women who are NO LONGER LEAKING.
It is very important to have an evaluation by a pelvic specialist in physical therapy to determine why the leaking is happening. Leaking urine does not always mean you need to do more “Kegels”. Often the issue may be muscles that are too tight, do not properly coordinate with the abdominal wall and diaphragm muscles. There may be hip muscle weakness that causes an imbalance in the system and when restored, the pelvic floor can function more optimally. Be your own advocate! Many states allow direct access, meaning you can see a physical therapist even if your doctor does not write you a referral for it! Call us! We will be happy to schedule an evaluation and get you moving in the right direction.
How Can A Pelvic PT Help with Incontinence?
A pelvic physical therapist can help you identify where your issues lie, and improve any incontinence or imbalances throughout the body. After pregnancy and delivery, there are many! The abdominal wall is stretched beyond huge, and opened with C-section. The pelvic floor is trashed with vaginal birth. The spine and pelvis are forced to function in funky ways as that baby grows and kicks. Pregnancy and delivery is an amazing feat, but a traumatic one. We need to see it as an injury that needs help to restore normal function and balance. It is not a permanent injury that cannot be healed! The deep system that is dysfunctional after babies is vital to our function as human beings.
How is Your Core Related to Incontinence?
Deep core stability is important in performance of simple daily activities, and is especially important in exercise. This requires muscular strength, awareness and coordination with the deep abdominal muscles, respiratory muscles and the spinal stability muscles along with the pelvic floor. It is important to work with a pelvic physical therapist to determine what is going on with YOUR core system. Every woman is different. Give yourself the time and love your body needs to restore itself so you can care for your kiddos as they grow. Don’t limit yourself because societal impressions are that mom’s leak urine and that just how it is.
Spread The Word About Incontinence!
Share this with friends, family, sisters and mothers. We know that 1 in 3 of you reading this is experiencing this symptom. Take the time to have your body evaluated by a women’s health physical therapist to develop an appropriate, individualized exercise plan for your body. This will allow you to reach your fitness goals, and keep a healthy, strong body that you can be proud of.
-Sarah Dominguez, PT MSPT CLT WCS