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Can you run a leak free 5K?

If you are here, chances are you have experience the frustration and embarrassment that is leaking urine while you are running. It could have been a little or it could have completely soaked your pants. Anyway you look at it, leaking while running is downright miserable.

The leaking is better known as stress urinary incontinence. It happens when your system is overwhelmed. When there is a large amount of pressure placed on your pelvic floor, it is not strong enough or is not coordinated enough to hold the liquid in your bladder. This stress can come from the outside- think jumping or running- anytime that you land with impact. It can also come from increased pressure within- coughing, sneezing, laughing- increased pressure in your abdomen that pushes down toward the pelvic floor. If your pelvic floor is unable to keep up with the pressure placed on it, you will leak.

The most important thing to note here is that while leaking is very common it is never normal nor should it be accepted as something you have to deal with for the rest of your life, even though right now it probably feels like you will. Also, please don’t feel alone. At the time I was struggling, no one ever mentioned that this was happening to them even though come to find out later that at least 50% of my close friends had leaking with running after pregnancy. So here is my personal story in hopes that you can relate and see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

After I had my second child, I experienced my first episodes of leaking with running. My pants were soaked- at least halfway down to my knees. When I realized that the wetness was not increased sweat when I got home, I was shocked and jumped in the shower to wash off from my run and cried under the streaming water. I thought “If I just ignore this it will get better,” I started limiting my water intake, and going every time I left the house. If you are currently doing any of those things click here for “3 Mistakes We See Women with Incontinence Make.”

I was so embarrassed and discouraged. I even tried running a few more times thinking that if I just held my pelvic floor as tight as possible the entire time that I would be so strong that nothing would get past it. My leaking was significantly worse on that run. Then, I tried kegels. About a million to be exact. I tightened at every stop light, while watching movies at night, and even in the checkout line at the grocery store. My symptoms got even WORSE. Now what the heck am I supposed to do??? (If this sounds like you too, check out one of our most popular blogs “Kegels Not Working for You…3 Reasons Why”)

I wanted desperately to continue running for fitness and stress relief but at that point every run was causing more stress because I was experiencing so many problems with incontinence. I was embarrassed that someone might be able to smell what was happening, or see the leakage on my workout pants so I only wore completely black pants. I was defeated and felt completely alone. I had never heard any of my friends who have children talk about this problem so I didn’t talk about it either.

That is when my mental health started to suffer. Blaming myself for this problem thinking maybe if I hadn’t gained those extra pounds while pregnant and I should have worked out more often during my pregnancy. Maybe if I had this wouldn’t be happening. The blame game lead me to just quit running all together and what was the point of working out at all now. My body was failing me and I was only 34 years old.

I knew from being a physical therapist that my pelvic floor was the problem but I wasn’t a pelvic health physical therapist at that time. Physical therapy school does not prepare you for the pelvic floor. It takes a bunch of specialty training and experience after school to be skilled in this area.

So at this point, I was just a mom with two kids under the age of 3 trying to survive that most difficult part of motherhood- the newborn/toddler years. When I finally came up for some air and my daughter was sleeping through the night I decided enough was enough. I am going to fix this problem. I used my skills as a physical therapist to dive into the research and take the specialty training to learn how to fix this for myself.

My issues are now resolved- after performing the RIGHT set of exercises and strategies for my body and my symptoms. This inspired me to help women just like you who don’t know where to turn to to get back to the activities you love carefree.