“I can’t do more than 20 double unders without peeing myself!”
If this is you, you are not alone. It is a common phenomenon amongst female athletes and something that is not often discussed, due to the nature of the symptoms. However in this article we are going to help you understand the condition a little more.
What can lead to female incontinence (peeing yourself)?
More often than not it is due to weakness within the musculature of the pelvic floor.
It often happens during training due to the way we use our bodies: When we push our belly out it’s not only our abdominal muscles that are stretching, but also the muscles of the pelvic floor too – this pushing causes sub optimal “intra-abdominal pressure management”.
Therefore imagine that action over and over again (Double Unders) or under load (Weightlifting). This unprepared stretching of the pelvic floor is what often leads to the incontinence/peeing when training.
STRENGTHENING THE CORE AND PELVIC FLOOR
What can we do to help it?
For the female athletes suffering from incontinence during jumps it is important that they recognise when the pressure is going down to their pelvic floor and control it. They can also reinforce the musculature of the pelvic floor with specific exercises “Kegels” (Explained below).
Todo this exercise you first need to locate your pelvic floor musculature as the kegel exercise involves contracting these muscles.
How to locate your pelvic floor:
- (Practical way) – When you next go to the toilet, try to stop yourself peeing, these muscles that stop the peeing are the pelvic floor muscles.
- (Visual way) – Simply use a mirror when sitting on the floor – here you can check when you contract as you see your pelvic floor flexing/relaxing.
Note: It is important only to contract the pelvic floor – you shouldn’t contract the glutes or any other accessory muscles when doing the exercise.
Once you have located your pelvic floor, you can now preform the Kegel exercise:
Contract the muscles
Maintain the contraction around 6-10 seconds
Release the contraction slowly
Relax and rest around 6-10 seconds
You shouldn’t feel your glutes contracting or your legs moving while doing these exercises.
You can practice them seated or lying on the floor and when you have practiced for a whole you can even do them standing.
Practice twice a day 10 – 20 reps each time, no more than that because like any muscle they can get sore…
Planks are a great exercise to strengthen the core muscles without adding extra pressure to the pelvic floor. There are a lot of variations, we have an example of one in this photo using the rings to create instability:
Try to build to a 2 minute plank in as few sets as possible.
In this exercise the instability created by the movement of the kettlebells while we walk will generate contractions of our core muscles without adding pressure to our pelvic floor and giving benefit not only to the abdominal muscles but the back and shoulder muscles too.
Start light, then try to build in weight. Working a simple 3-4 minute AMRAP over 10m works well for this exercise.
For those who already had symptoms of incontinence I highly recommend you go to a physiotherapist specialized in pelvic floor who will make the correct diagnosis. For more information please e-mail email@example.com
By – TJ García, The Progrm Coach and Physiotherapist specialised in Pelvic Floor and Sports.