For the Ladies: Don’t Let UI Slow You Down

May 3, 2017

Physical therapist Jeanette Knill tells women what they can do about a common problem with a workable solution

Ladies, this one is for you.

Running can work up a sweat. Depending on your workout intensity and outside temperature, you may have a soaking wet shirt and shorts. But are your shorts wet just because of sweat? Are you getting wet because you dribble urine when you run? If your shorts are wet with urine, you have urinary incontinence (UI) — and this is not normal.

Urinary incontinence is the leakage of urine at inappropriate times. According to the National Association for Continence, 25 million Americans are affected with incontinence — yet only one in 12 seek help with the problem. Eighty percent of the people who receive help improve or eliminate the incontinence. Most women will take up to seven years before they tell their healthcare provider they have this common — but not normal — problem.

The most common types of UI are:

• Stress: Urine leakages with a cough, sneeze, laugh or while running.
• Urge: A strong urge to urinate and not being able to control the urge, resulting in an uncontrolled loss of urine.

Urinary incontinence develops due to a problem with the muscles of the pelvic floor. The pelvic floor muscles form the base of the body’s core. In a female, it is the muscle structure that supports the uterus, vagina, bladder and rectum. It controls when we use the toilet and is important in sexual satisfaction. Pregnancy, childbirth and aging put stress through these muscles, compromising function.

Kegel exercises are one of the recommended exercises to help improve pelvic floor muscle function. To do these, you perform the same muscle contraction you use to stop urinating. You can determine if you are using the correct muscles by stopping your urine flow midstream while on the toilet. Note: Do not exercise this way. This is only a test.

Remember that the pelvic floor muscles are the base of your core. Weakness at the other core muscles, the low abdominal and hip muscles, can cause the pelvic floor to work harder and fatigue quicker, leaving it unable to perform its main function. Some women have other factors that can lead to dysfunction, which are too complex to address in a short blog.

If you are having difficulty with urine leakages, please talk to your primary care provider. Ask your provider about seeing a Physical Therapist who is specially trained to treat pelvic floor dysfunction. Bellin offers pelvic floor PT at several locations — Bellevue, Howard,  Ashwaubenon and our Generations clinic.

Don’t let UI stop you in your tracks. Taking action today could mean a drier run tomorrow.

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