Like many women who have a million and one things to do, I waste so much time searching the internet for random stuff and watching pointless videos. However, this morning I stumbled across a controversial video from a few years ago and I just had to join the conversation about it…even if I am two years late to the party.
The video was an interview with some female Cross Fit athletes who were asked whether or not they pee during workouts. Surprisingly, the majority of the athletes not only answered ‘yes’ but almost celebrated it as a sign of how hard they are working…”If there’s no puddles, you’re not going hard enough.’’
Seriously?! It wasn’t even a joke. Apparently, the bigger the puddle, the harder you’re working. I must be doing something wrong. Although, I’m not sure I want to be doing it right if it looks like this.
This video really got me thinking about the whole ‘taboo’ subject of exercise-induced stress incontinence (aka peeing during a workout). As a PT specialising in working with women, I’m passionate about raising awareness of the issue. Too often we get clients coming to us who have tolerated incontinence during exercise as they’ve always believed that the two go hand in hand. I know so many women who go to exercise classes wearing a ‘Tena Lady’ just in case the instructor throws some jumping jacks into the workout.
I have friends who openly admit that there is no way they can jump on the trampoline with their kids without leaking or can’t sneeze without a little dribble.
These examples are of young, fit and healthy women – not the 90-year-old grannies you would stereotypically associate with incontinence.
Stress incontinence is a really common condition and approximately 1 in 3 women will experience urinary incontinence at some point in their life. The problem is, it’s like Fight Club – and we all know the rules of Fight Club.
I totally get it, though and can see why it’s not a topic that comes up easily in conversation. Just imagine mid-way through your personal training session with the hottest guy (or girl) at the gym – the last thing you want to say is: ‘’Oh btw, I just pissed myself during that last set”.
BUT – and this is a big BUT – if an exercise is making you leak urine, then there IS a problem somewhere, either with your technique, your ability to brace your core effectively or your pelvic floor muscle not functioning as effectively as it could be. You need to do something about it – either changing your exercise programme as your body is not strong enough at this moment in time to cope with the demands (as in the Cross Fitters in the video I mentioned above) or there is an issue with the muscles in and around your pelvic floor and core.
The thing that I find so crazy, is that this condition can not only be managed and improved but in most cases it can be fixed completely. However, most of us choose to ignore the issue and that isn’t good for anyone – especially those people cleaning the floor after the Cross Fit competitions lol.
I have come across so many women over the years who have just accepted it and think “it is what it is” and put it down to either having had children, it’s always been weak or that it’s just what happens as you get older. This could not be further from the truth.
Seeing these women in the video celebrate incontinence as a sign of strength is only going to add to the misconception that we should accept it as the norm. (Btw I’m not saying this is a reflection of all Cross-Fitters, I know lots who are with me on this one). We should be talking about it with each other and reassuring each other that it’s common BUT that it’s treatable. Our fitness trainers should be advising women on pelvic floor health and making sure they don’t push clients too hard too soon. We should be referring our female clients to pelvic health therapists and adjusting their training programmes to support their pelvic rehab rather than continuing to beast them with exercises that are making it worse.
So, I’m starting the conversation with you all and asking you to think about your pelvic floor health. Answer this question for me:
1) Do you leak urine during exercise?