Why does my bladder leak when I exercise?

Updated: Feb 20

You are not alone.

Bladder leaks during workouts are common, especially during high impact exercises like aerobics, running & some exercises in boot camp or CrossFit, especially those involving jumping, lifting, or skipping. This is known as Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI) & although this is common, it is not normal, and you can do something about it. This ‘something’ almost certainly involves addressing any pelvic floor issues you might have!

So, what is the pelvic floor?

The pelvic floor is a bowl of muscles in the base of the pelvis.

It has several different functions:

• It is an important postural muscle for the spine and pelvis.

• It is the muscular support for the pelvic organs – the bladder, uterus & rectum

• It is essential for continence and forms the sphincters that help keep the bladder & anus closed. It also helps to support the bladder neck when intra-abdominal pressure is raised, preventing urine leaking.

• It has an essential role in sexual enjoyment & orgasm.

If you leak when you are exercising, the pelvic floor is not doing its continence function properly & it is likely struggling to support the bladder neck against the rise in intra-abdominal pressure when you jump or do other exercises.

What can I do about it?

Many people cope with this SUI by wearing black leggings or a pad for exercise, by emptying their bladder before, or restricting their fluid intake while they are exercising or even stopping doing certain exercises which make them leak. This might keep you dry and make your SUI symptoms better, but eventually, you will begin to leak again with much less challenging exerc