Leaking with skipping, jumping, Crossfit and lifting…. Is it normal?

Stress Urinary Incontinence (leakage) has recently been recognised as a concern among women who participate in high intensity interval training (HIIT) and Crossfit. Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI) is involuntary leakage of urine during activities that increase abdominal pressure. Studies show that up to 84% of women leak during Crossfit and most commonly with jumping, skipping (double unders) and weightlifting (Elks et al, 2020). 

Although incontinence is very common among ladies participating in Crossfit workouts it is NOT normal. Many ladies are led to believe that due to the high intensity of the workouts that this leakage is normal, particularly if you have had a baby. However, this is not the case. Regardless of the intensity of the workout OR if you have had a baby or not incontinence is not okay. 

Many factors play a role in SUI, these include: 

  • Reduced pelvic floor strength 
  • Overactive pelvic floor 
  • Reduced pelvic floor reactivity 
  • Reduce pelvic floor coordination 
  • Improper breathing patterns 
  • Increased abdominal bracing during exercises 
  • Increased BMI 

The great news is that treatment is available.A Women’s Health Physiotherapy consult can assist in the treatment of SUI. Your Physiotherapist will: 

  • Assess the strength of the pelvic floor (and compare this to where it needs to be) 
  • Assess the tone of the pelvic floor (an overactive pelvic floor can be just as much of an issue as a weak pelvic floor) 
  • Assess the coordination and reactivity of the pelvic floor (to increases in abdominal pressure) 
  • Determine your breathing patterns 
  • Look at your abdominal control during movements 

Here are our top 5 tips for reducing leakage during jumping, skipping and lifting: 

  1. Improve your pelvic floor strength with pelvic floor exercises (it is important to have an assessment to determine if strength is your issues) 
  2. Practice relaxing the pelvic floor (when performing your pelvic floor exercises ensure you completely let go and relax between each contraction)
  3. Stop bracing your abdominal muscles when jumping, skipping and lifting (abdominal bracing increases pressure down on the pelvic floor) 
  4. Ensure you are breathing correctly (Breathing down into the tummy, expanding the ribs 360* allows proper movement of the diaphragm and pelvic floor) 
  5. Reduce your BMI to a healthy range (increased BMI = increased pressure down on the pelvic floor, contributing to leakage) 

Let us know if you have any questions!! 

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