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Leaking Pee When You Run

Updated: May 17, 2022



Have you ever mustered up the determination to start running, just to find yourself leaking pee as you jog down the street?


This something called stress incontinence, and can be damaging to our self esteem and ability to participate in physical activity.


The good news is pelvic floor physical therapy is here to help.


Let's dive into why you might find yourself in this situation.


Causes For Stress Incontinence In Athletes


Leaking urine during athletics is a surprisingly common problem in all ages of women, including in adolescents. The cause can be complex and is typically not resolved by simply doing kegels to strengthen the pelvic floor.


I often see a tight pelvic floor in female athletes suffering from this issue. The pelvic floor will compensate for breakdowns in the core system, including breathing, posture and abdominal wall activation, and become overly-tense as a result. This can lead to pee leaks.


The pelvic floor may also be stressed due to decreased hip stability and appropriate hip muscle activation. This can also result in pee leaks.


Stress Incontinence In Pregnancy


Urinary incontinence is very common during pregnancy due to the increased stress on the pelvis and pelvic floor.


Many times, pregnancy will exacerbate underlying movement dysfunctions that were present prior to pregnancy. This is why I always advocate for women to see me before they even get pregnant. If you're already suffering from pee leaks prior to pregnancy, it's highly likely pregnancy will exacerbate this issue.


If you find yourself dealing with pee leaks during pregnancy, pelvic floor physical therapy can still help decrease symptoms and make your pregnancy more comfortable.


If you find yourself leaking pee during pregnancy, I highly recommend keeping in close contact with your pelvic floor PT during pregnancy and postpartum. You are leaking for a reason and that reason needs to be comprehensively addressed so that it is not exacerbated through subsequent pregnancies or later on in life.


Stress Incontinence Postpartum


Pregnancy and childbirth can bring on pelvic and floor dysfunction due to trauma to the pelvic floor, urethra, and bladder.


This is why it's important to give your body a few months to heal before running. This is the case even if you've had an uncomplicated birth without any tearing. You body needs time to shrink the size of the uterus, heal trauma to the bladder and urethra, and restore core support.


It took almost 10 months to grow your baby, and in a matter of a few days you are no longer pregnant! That's a gigantic shift that requires adequate healing time.


I see far fewer issues with stress incontinence in moms that work with me postpartum to help restore function and gradually build into running.


Occasionally some moms will find pee leaks coming to haunt them several months after starting running without pee leaks. This can be the result of bladder irritation, postural changes, or a change in muscle activation patterns that can occur simply due to our lifestyle.


Healing Stress Incontinence


Stress incontinence is common across all ages of female athletes, and especially during pregnancy and postpartum.


Healing stress incontinence in athletes can be complicated and requires a thorough investigation of movement patterns, dietary irritants, and habits regarding the pelvic floor health.


It is incredibly frustrating to experience pee leaks with running, but working closely with a trained physical therapist is the best option for healing your incontinence.


If you are an athlete dealing with pee leaks my recommendation is to invest in finding the root cause of your incontinence and commit to treatment. Keep working toward your goal until you have a solution. This can take a lot of problem solving, investigating, and trial and error. It's worth it for your long-term health.


If you are leaking pee while running, your body is telling you something is wrong. Continuing to push through will lead to further dysfunction. If you are dealing with this, get the help you need today.








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