Incontinence can be an embarrassing inconvenience – whether you leak a few drops or a whole lot. But it doesn’t mean you need to stop exercising or avoid the gym. In fact, exercise can be very helpful, as carrying extra weight can weaken your pelvic floor muscles, which can lead to incontinence. 

"With stress incontinence, the sphincter pelvic muscles, which support the bladder and urethra, are weakened," pelvic floor dysfunction specialist Gail O'Neill told SheKnows.

"The sphincter is not able to prevent urine from flowing when pressure is placed on the abdomen, such as when you cough, laugh, lift something heavy, or during certain forms of exercise such as running and CrossFit."

Here are five ways to handle incontinence while working out:

1. Train your bladder

According to O’Neill, people who suffer from stress incontinence often believe that they should go to the bathroom, just in case, before working out to avoid embarrassing leaks. But this is not advisable.

She says, "Although this may seem like a logical tactic, it is signalling the brain to tell the bladder to empty before it has achieved its necessary fullness. Your bladder will prematurely need to empty more not less."

2. Use an insert

Many women find that using a tampon, even if they are not menstruating, can help prevent urine leaks during exercise. How? It puts a little bit of pressure on the urethra. You can also use a high-impact pessary, which is inserted into the vagina and helps support the urethra.

Just remember, though, that these are temporary inserts and should be removed when you have finished exercising. “You put the pessary in when you need a little extra support and take it out when you’re done with your workout,” said Dr Kristin Rooney, a urogynaecology specialist and assistant professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

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