Yep, it happens!
You are at the gym. Everything is going just as it should. You get some good stretching in and head to the treadmill to warm up a bit. Perfect, that’s done now onto some weights, you do the leg press, bench press, and some free weights. You decide to go to the bathroom before you start your cardio to pee and wash your hands (hygiene is important). You put in your Airpods and grab your jump rope and start jumping… and then you pee. Yep, there it is.. PEE! “What the hell just happened? I just went to the damn bathroom!” is what you secretly yell to yourself! You look around to ensure nobody witnessed this travesty and then you bolt discretely to the bathroom yet again. Sound familiar? So maybe you don’t exercise. What about when you catch that nasty cold, you know the one… Achy body, chills, fever, runny nose, and the lovely hacking cough and sneezing. Let’s talk about those back to back retched coughing bouts that push every ounce of air out of you and no matter what , you can’t stop hacking. The attacks that send tears down your cheeks and pee down your leg! Yep again, PEE! Now, lets not forget the occasional or not so occasional sneeze. Some of you all sneeze like 8 times in a row… how do you not completely drain your bladder in those episodes? or maybe you do! What about those times you can’t stop laughing, I am talking hysterically laughing where you absolutely cannot stop? I love to laugh… and I can get laughing pretty hard, crying hard! In fact, I laughed so hard snowshoeing with my friend this winter, that I literally peed. Yep, peed in the mountains, in my pants, not fun! So, it happens… as much as we try to control it… it just does. So…. Embarrassing subject… or all too familiar? Either way, we are going to talk about it now….. Of course we are! So here goes…
Is there something wrong with me??
No. There is nothing wrong with you. It’s actually quite common and if it makes you feel any better, in addition to my laughing story above, I also have a workout story. 2 weeks ago, I decided to incorporate jump roping into my nightly work out and 4 jumps in, I felt it, and I had to go! Now, 2 weeks later, I am smart… I go to the bathroom immediately before I start to jump rope and I am fine. Now, I will say that as we age, as well as other factors, the once incredibly strengthened ligament and tendons that surround the urethra and pelvic floor lose their strength. When this happens the seal isn’t as solid as it once was and therefore leakage can happen. Several factors play into the loosening of these once strong tendons and ligaments; Obesity, pregnancy, c-section can all play a part. So if you have had any of those you are probably wondering what you can do now… Don’t worry we will talk about that next. In the meantime, we also need to understand that urinary incontinence (the official name for this) is not solely an “older person problem or OPP” this can also happen in younger athletic women. Research shows that 1/4 of all collegiate women (whom have not had children) experience this when participating in their respective sport. Alarmingly, gymnasts and basketball players suffered the most at about 67%, but there were also swimmers, golfers, volleyball and softball players that were also affected. 35% of track and field athletes also complained about leaking during meets (US News). Shocking right? I thought so, but do you feel a little better? I know I do. I guess it’s true misery does love company!
What can help?
Well for one, dropping some weight. This is kind of funny because if you are jumping rope, running, or otherwise, you may already be trying to lose that weight. That added weight applies more pressure to the pelvic floor so the more you can lose the less pressure there will be. So, you may have to wear a pad, pantyliner, tampon, a special workout insert called a pessary, and drink a little less water during your workout until you get to a weight that lessens the pressure. Surgery is an option, but non-surgical is always best, in my opinion. Making the muscles stronger by doing Kegels (https://www.health.harvard.edu/bladder-and-bowel/step-by-step-guide-to-performing-kegel-exercises) as well as starting slow and working up to your workout will also help. Like I said earlier when I first started jumping rope it was awful, so I started going to the bathroom before, THEN did a little at a time focusing on tightening my muscles every time I jumped. Now, I have it mastered, no more leaks. The last option is to avoid doing those things that cause added pressure to your pelvic floor (all the things I have mentioned in this blog), but who wants to live like that when my blogs are all about living your best life! So, try the other things to help strengthen your pelvic floor and then get busy doing the things you love without peeing in the process! I say it like it is.
The reality is that nobody wants to be coughing, sneezing, jumping, running, laughing, or otherwise and be faced with peeing their pants. It’s not only uncomfortable and smelly to sit in, but it also just another thing that messes with our self-esteem and mental health. This is one of the reasons that I am talking about it today. Understanding that it is ok. It happens and to more people than you could imagine. So, let’s take some steps to strengthen our bodies, strengthen our understanding, improve our mental health surrounding this, so we can enjoy all the things we love to do. In the meantime, remember, you aren’t the only one that this is happening to and maybe that will lessen the embarrassment ,if and when it does happen again. Oh, and just to add insult to injury. and so there are no surprises, it will undoubtedly happen again, probably sooner than later…. so my suggestion…. just lean into it and let it go (literally and figuratively speaking)… oh and..