Running and Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence is something we tend to associate with elderly women and mothers who have recently given birth. Would you be surprised, then, to learn that there is actually a totally separate group of women who pee themselves pretty regularly? We are talking, of course, about female runners. Yes, ladies; women who run think of yourselves as healthy, but you cannot run from the risk of urinary incontinence. Because of the high intensity, impact on the pelvic floor muscles, and endurance involved in running, female bodies experience tremendous amounts of stress in the pelvic floor region, with the bladder being perhaps the biggest victim. Let's break it down.

The Quick Facts

In a study conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), researchers found that over 45 percent of elite female athletes studied experienced symptoms of stress urinary incontinence. The women surveyed were professional athletes participating in the endurance sports of running and cross-country skiing. Stress urinary incontinence is generally characterized by small urine leaks when coughing or sneezing; the urge urinary incontinence with which people are more familiar has to do more with straining to pee or the bladder being unable to empty itself. Although most of us are not elite professional athlete, we do put our bodies through a lot of strain while running. There's an important factor to note; 76 percent of the women in the study had never gone through childbirth, and we know that childbirth does quite a number on the pelvic floor muscles. If some of the healthiest women in the world cannot stave off urinary incontinence, imagine how much risk a normal mother who loves running faces.

Why Do Female Runners Pee So Much?

When you run, you bounce ever so slightly in addition to the forward momentum. Unfortunately, this up-and-down motion puts a lot of pressure on the bladder, as the pelvic floor muscles have to handle the increased stress. This is made all the worse by the regular, constant motion of running. When the pelvic floor muscles and the bladder experience this sort of stress, they tighten and are not able to expand as effectively to hold urine in. Sneezing and coughing produce those signature urine leaks because the quick, intense motion allows small drops of pee to sneak past. How many of our runners out here pee a little when they run? Raise your hands!

Oh, there’s more...

The mechanics of running are not the only factor which can contribute to urinary incontinence. Nutrition plays a significant role. Drinking lots of sugary beverages or caffeine may irritate the lining of the bladder and facilitate urinary continence. Caffeine may also increase the speed of your digestion, which may make you pee more. Some common pain medications taken by athletes, including aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, may also increase the speed at which fluids are passed through the body; this also makes urinary incontinence more likely. But, have no fear – this is pretty easily and quickly fixed

There's Hope!

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So, what do you do about this? You train the pelvic floor muscles to be toned and strong (just like our calf muscles). You train the pelvic floor muscles by doing pelvic floor muscles exercises with the Yarlap. We all know someone goes to the bathroom during runs or marathons. The answer is not to quit running or quit exercising. However, its links to urinary incontinence cannot be denied. The Yarlap offers a great solution to female runners. While you can't use this revolutionary electroceutical device during your morning run, you can simply pop it in for 20 minutes each day while you're resting afterwards. It's easy and effective, perfect for women on the go.