A Runner’s Guide to Incontinence

Are you running to the bathroom instead of running the trails? If so, you’re not alone! Researchers have found that as many as 30 percent of female runners have experienced incontinence while running. The median age for women marathon runners is 35, which also is a prime age for urinary incontinence to emerge.

Urinary leakage during running is due to what is often called “stress incontinence.” The jarring impact of your legs hitting the pavement causes the organs in the pelvic cavity to be continuously pulled in a downward motion, sometimes resulting in pelvic organ prolapse issues. The most frequent form of incontinence, stress incontinence can be triggered by running, jumping or even sneezing.

Are you at risk? Weakened pelvic muscles happen after childbirth, surgeries, diabetes, obesity and even some medications. Also, as women age their likelihood of experiencing incontinence issues increases.

What can women do to lessen the symptoms?

  • Strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor using Kegel exercises or Pilates.
  • Wear support garments like absorbent pads while running to absorb any leakage.
  • Time your fluid intake, use the restroom before running or plan on having a bathroom or two along your route.
  • Keep a bladder diary to determine the best times to go to the restroom.
  • Discuss treatment options – including minimally invasive surgery – with a doctor.

Most importantly, don’t let incontinence limit you from participating in something you love. Whether you dream of running marathons or simply running after your kids at the park, we’re here to help. For more information or to speak with a dedicated medical concierge, call 1.800.771.1953.