Urinary incontinence is a common health problem affecting millions of men and women worldwide. This condition is associated with involuntary leakage, especially when there's stress on the body. The loss of bladder control can limit your social life and impact your ability to carry out daily tasks.
One of the common issues someone with stress incontinence may experience is weight lifting incontinence, a condition that inhibits your ability to hold urine during exercise. Heavy weight lifting can exacerbate incontinence by placing pressure on the abdomen and bladder. Moreover, lifting weights can weaken or injure your pelvic floor muscles, increasing the chance of urinary leakage.
Don't let lifting incontinence get in the way of your workout routine. Read on for tips and tricks to manage the risk of bladder leakage during weight lifting and other strenuous exercises.
How Does Heavy Weight Lifting Cause Incontinence?
Incorporating weight lifting into your fitness plan can help you burn calories, tone muscles, and build your overall strength. That said, lifting the heaviest possible weight can reduce your ability to control urination. The exercise routine can apply enormous downward force on your pelvic floor, potentially leading to urinary incontinence.
While lifting heavy weights can be productive, it can also cause or exacerbate urinary incontinence by weakening the pelvic structures that support the bladder. Pelvic floor dysfunction in weight lifting is often a result of intense physical exertion of the sphincter and other muscles around the bladder.
Every time you execute a lift, your body experiences increased intra-abdominal pressure that's transferred to the pelvic floor. With time, this pressure can weaken the muscles at the base of your body that regulate urine flow.
Weak pelvic muscles, coupled with intense stress on the bladder during weight lifting, can lead to unwanted voiding while in the gym. As a result, most bodybuilders experience accidental urine leaks that hinder their ability to exercise and reap the benefits of their workout sessions.
If you enjoy lifting weights, adopt proper strength training, breathing, and posture techniques that allow the bladder and pelvic floor muscles to work in synchrony. Your healthcare provider can help prevent the onset of lifting incontinence by checking for weakness, spasms, and knots in your pelvic organs.
What to Consider Before Heavy Weight Lifting
Active adults who enjoy training and performing at high levels are often at risk of urinary incontinence. Heavy weight lifting can provoke leakage by impeding your ability to relax and coordinate the pelvic floor muscles that control urination.
Before taking up weight lifting, consider the following factors that can contribute to incontinence during exercise:
- Age and hormonal changes: As you age, your body undergoes hormonal and physiological changes, making you more susceptible to lifting incontinence. Inevitably, most people will experience muscular weakness and changes in collagen elasticity that reduce pelvic floor function.
- Pregnancy and childbirth: There's an increased likelihood of weight lifting incontinence in women who have given birth due to hormonal and physical changes in the body during pregnancy and delivery. A woman's abdominal and pelvic regions can become strained during pregnancy and childbirth, leading to voiding dysfunction.
- Obesity: Excess weight has been linked to an increased risk of weight lifting incontinence. A higher body mass index increases pressure on the abdominal and pelvic organs, reducing muscle strength and elasticity.
- Previous pelvic surgery or injury: Patients who have undergone pelvic surgery or injured their pelvic region can have voiding accidents during lifting due to damage to the muscles and ligaments that support the bladder.
Chronic sneezing or coughing: Chronic coughing can exacerbate stress incontinence during exercise by exerting sudden pressure on the muscles that support the bladder and urethra.
Preventing Weight Lifting Incontinence
Unfortunately, the long-lasting side effects of urine leakage during exercise can force some people to miss workout sessions or quit strenuous physical activity altogether. To prevent incontinence during heavy lifting, you must ensure the forces within the thorax don't exceed the strength of your pelvic floor and bladder muscles.
Working with a professional trainer can help you adopt proper weight training techniques that strengthen core muscles, boosting control over urination during exercise. The following strategies may help you mitigate weight lifting incontinence.
Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor Muscles
For some people, one of the most effective ways to enhance control over the bladder is to perform simple contract and release movements known as Kegel exercises. These training routines target the pelvic structures, allowing you to strengthen the core muscles of your lower back, pelvis, and urethra.
Regular Kegels help tighten the pelvic floor muscles responsible for regulating urine flow. These exercise programs improve the strength and coordination of the abdominal and pelvic floor muscles, reducing incidents of urine leakage during periods of high stress.
Contractions that target the pelvic floor can add support to the muscles surrounding the bladder and urethra during strenuous lifting exercise. However, Kegels may not be suitable for people who have pelvic floor dysfunction or overflow incontinence, so check with your doctor first.
Practice Proper Breathing Techniques
Poor breathing techniques during exertion can increase abdominal stress, provoking unwanted voiding. By holding your breath while lifting heavy weights, you essentially trap pressure in the thorax region. This pressure is thrust downward onto the pelvic floor, exacerbating incontinence symptoms.
Fitness specialists recommend breathing out as you lift the weight and breathing in as you lower it to even out and reduce abdominal pressure that could stress the pelvic floor and bladder muscles.
Avoid Lifting Exercises That Put Pressure on the Pelvic Floor
Weight lifting can exert immense impact forces on the pelvic and abdominal structures, increasing the chances of involuntary voiding. The risk for urine leakage can increase during difficult lifting exercises, such as the deadlift.
To protect your pelvic floor muscles from injury and avoid aggravating incontinence, avoid weights that place too much pressure on the core muscles.
Talk to Your Doctor Before You Start Weight Lifting
If done incorrectly, lifting exercises can cause irreversible pelvic muscle tears that increase the risk of incontinence. To protect your body from injury when lifting heavy weights, consult a healthcare professional who specializes in pelvic floor disorders.
Your doctor can help you incorporate training techniques that promote proper muscle and joint movement during lifts.
How to Manage Weight Lifting Incontinence
Many active adults are reluctant to seek help for their bladder control problems during weight lifting, causing incontinence to worsen over time. It's important to face the issue and embrace lifestyle changes and training variations to reduce leakage incidents while exercising.
It's common for incontinence to worsen during high-intensity routines, such as deadlifts and squats. If you experience leakage episodes during heavy weight lifting, there's a lot you can do to manage the issue.
The following tips may help reduce weight lifting incontinence, so you can ensure your time at the gym is productive and enjoyable.
Empty Your Bladder Before and During Exercise
Timed voiding before lifting heavy weights can help reduce accidents during exercise. To reduce pressure on your bladder, urinate at least an hour before hitting the gym. Try to empty the bladder between lifts, even when you don't feel the urge to go.
To reduce the chances of urine leaks after a bathroom visit, relax your pelvic floor muscles to allow the bladder to empty completely. Double voiding before and during lifts can help eliminate any retained urine that could leak during your workout.
Adjust Workout Routines to Avoid Exacerbating Incontinence Symptoms
Incontinence can worsen when the pelvic floor muscles are overworked and strained by a weight lifting set. To prevent pelvic floor muscle fatigue, consider adjusting your training routine to give yourself enough recovery time between lifts.
Your pelvic physical therapist can recommend customized training variations that improve recovery and give you better bladder control. The expert can also work with you to improve posture and pick out weights that provide optimal fitness and strength without exacerbating incontinence symptoms.
Wear Incontinence Products During Workouts
Advancements in continence technology and design have led to the development of high-quality incontinence products designed for active adults. Protective pads and undergarments that fit under gym clothing allow you to exercise with incontinence comfortably.
Nexware offers discrete and comfortable incontinence pads and protective underwear that wick away moisture from the body, helping you maintain your active lifestyle. People of all ages can find comfortable and discrete Nexware products with greater absorbency to keep them dry during workouts.
The Bottom Line
Weight lifters who experience bladder leakage can combat incontinence by adopting various preventive strategies. For example, emptying your bladder before and during a lifting session can help reduce the urgency to urinate during exercise.
Proper warm-ups and regular Kegel exercises can activate the pelvic muscles, empowering you to exercise with incontinence. Be sure to consult your physical therapist on the best bracing and lifting techniques to improve your posture and reduce pressure on the abdominal and pelvic floor muscles.
You don't have to miss a workout due to the stress and discomfort of urinary incontinence. Nexware provides a wide assortment of discrete absorption products to keep you active and comfortable. With a Nexwear subscription, you'll always have high-quality pads and underwear that provide maximum security and comfort. Shop Nexwear Today!