Does too much running and sexual activities lead to incontinence?
By: Dr. Brianne Grogan, PT, DPT
First, it's important to know that physical fitness and movement are great for the pelvic floor muscles!
However, there are several reasons incontinence might occur: weakness/fatigue, excess tension, or a pressure management problem.
weakness/fatigue: One reason is that your pelvic floor and core muscles might need to be strengthened in order to handle the "work" of running and sexual activities. Your muscles might literally be fatigued, and simply need to build strength to be able to handle lengthier durations of these activities.
excess tension: Incontinence may also occur if your pelvic floor muscles tend to hold onto extra tension after "too much" of these activities. When your pelvic floor muscles are too tight, and they stay too tight (chronically), this can impact their ability to function well.
pressure management problem: A third reason that incontinence could occur is if you find yourself repeatedly bearing down or straining during these activities. This can happen during sex (particularly during orgasm) and it can also occur if you breath-hold or if you suck your tummy in (and overutilize your upper abs) during running.
I suggest two things:
1) If you have access to a pelvic floor physiotherapist in your area, please schedule a consultation. She can give you individualized guidance and can help you understand if it's an issue of muscle weakness/fatigue, excess tension, or a pressure management problem.
2) No matter which issue is contributing to incontinence, everyone can benefit from pelvic floor relaxation training. The Overcome Pelvic Pain for Women program is a great way to learn how to identify and relax the pelvic floor muscles, and over the course of the 12 weeks, you'll begin to safely and gradually strengthen your muscles. It would be a great foundation for your incontinence rehab!
I hope this helps. Take care!