While we often connect stress urinary incontinence with pregnancy and postpartum recovery, urinary leaking happens during athletics as well! Both recreational and elite athletes can experience athletic urinary incontinence.
Who experiences athletic urinary incontinence?
- Athletes in high-impact sports experience much more leaking than those in low-impact sports. Jumping was the most common trigger for leaking, followed by running. This means that a wide range of athletes experience urinary incontinence. Rates of leaking are high in trampolinists, track athletes, volleyball players, rugby players, and gymnasts.
- One large survey found that 14.7% of male and 45.5% of female athletes experienced athletic urinary incontinence.
- Rates of urinary leaking are similar regardless of whether someone has been pregnant.
Is athletic urinary incontinence harmful for the pelvic floor?
It’s hard to say for sure because of gaps in research. We do know that athletic urinary incontinence can be uncomfortable and embarrassing for some! It may affect performance, or it may just be a small annoyance for others.
However, no research has shown that leaking with athletic training is overall harmful to the pelvic floor. If anything, athletic training helps build pelvic floor strength and keep our bodies healthy!
How can we address athletic urinary incontinence?
- Learn about your pelvic floor. Understanding how your pelvic floor works and learning how to control it can be important for reducing symptoms. Agile’s pelvic physical therapy program is the perfect place to start!
- Consider programming. Athletes seem to experience more urinary leaking when they train more hours per week. This suggests that their pelvic floor muscles are not recovering fully from their workouts. A skilled pelvic PT can work with you to improve your recovery and maintain good pelvic floor function.
- Consider body position. Positioning can make a big difference in how your pelvic floor resists pressure. We can work with you to find the most helpful strategies for your symptoms!
Consider capacity. Athletes may benefit from building overall muscle strength and capacity outside of sports practice. We’d love to help you design and follow a strength training program that supports you!