After pregnancy and giving birth, I now understand what all the fuss is about kegel exercises. I thought strengthening my pelvic floor muscles was about improving my sex life (which isn't top on your to-do list when your belly is expanding), but when I laughed and more came out of me than roaring giggles, I started doing kegels right then and there.
Moms and mothers-to-be aren't the only ones dealing with bladder control issues. Some women experience issues below the waist when they work out. Geez. As if chafing, bacne and blisters weren't enough on the list of unwanted side effects of exercise. Now we can add incontinence.
When you exercise, the pressure in your abdomen increases, which puts extra pressure on your bladder, so it makes sense that a little wee might leak out. Other types of movements that put pressure on the bladder such as sneezing, coughing, and laughing can also cause dribbles. This is known as stress incontinence, and the good news is that there are ways to prevent it.
Kegels, kegels, kegels. I can't stress enough how important it is to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles with kegel exercises. Not sure where those muscles are? Try this: The next time you're going to the bathroom, try to stop the flow. Those are the muscles you're trying to engage. With an empty bladder, hold for five seconds, then relax for five seconds. You can do these exercises any time (while waiting at a red light, checking email, etc.) because they're quick and no one will even know!
Don't hydrate immediately before working out. Not only can this cause cramps, but a full bladder is also more likely to overflow. Begin hydrating a few hours leading up to your workout, and cut yourself off from liquids at least 30 minutes before heading out.
Hit the restroom before getting your sweat on. The less you have in your bladder, the better.
Ditch the coffee and the cocktails. Caffeine and alcohol are both characterized as diuretics, which means they increase urine production. That means drinking these beverages can cause that feeling of urgency to happen more often (where you feel like you have to pee right this second), and since your body is making more urine, you'll end up taking more trips to the loo.
Avoid foods that irritate your bladder. The list includes oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes, spicy foods, tomato-based foods, carbonated beverages, artificial sweeteners, corn syrup, sugar and chocolate.
Give vaginal weights a whirl. These little weights are inserted inside your vagina, and they're supposed to make kegel exercises more effective. It makes sense—you'll tone your biceps faster if you lift dumbbells instead of air, right? A good friend assured me that they helped her figure out what muscles to engage, so if you're frustrated by urine leakage during exercise, they might be worth a shot.
You definitely don't want anything to prevent you from getting your sweat on, so hopefully these suggestions will make a difference. If they don't, make an appointment with your primary care physician or a urologist.