Some people may find this a sensitive subject. I would argue that it isn’t sensitive at all, that it is something that we definitely need to be talking about.

I’m going to address urinary incontinence today. Leaking. It isn’t just old people and it just isn’t females. And it definitely happens to athletes of all ages.

Candace Jarrett and Shannon Robbins are both pelvic health physical therapists with the Total Rehabilitation-MEND program at Blount Memorial Hospital. I chatted with both about this issue.

Let me start by saying that this is not an issue to hide or to be embarrassed by. There are effective interventions available to you.

Some people leak only under physical stress, such as lifting or running. For others, it can be a more persistent problem. Leakage post-partum (after birth) is a big issue. Let’s start with that.

Most new moms assume that leaking is part of the process. Most are reluctant to return to exercise and particularly to running after giving birth. That doesn’t have to be the case.

Anyone that has had a vaginal delivery should definitely see a pelvic health physical therapist. Before and after delivery. A lot of these kind of problems can be avoided or at least minimized by utilizing the services of the pelvic health physical therapist.

Weight lifters or those who have problems when they hold their breath and are really straining are actually pushing down on their bladder. That can cause leakage.

I’ve seen female weightlifters that expect to leak when they lift heavy. They may wear pads to catch the leak. There are better strategies to deal with that.

Runners of all ages can have problems with leakage. Again, too many accept that as part of running. It doesn’t have to be so. Sometimes, making small tweaks to the way that you run can often be all the difference you need to control leaking.

Breathing control is a huge issue in controlling leakage. Core strength is essential. As you fatigue in a long run, both breathing control and core strength become more of a factor.

Stress incontinence is a muscle weakness issue. We exercise other muscles, but we ignore the pelvic floor.

There are a lot of misconceptions about bladder health and leakage. The health of the pelvic floor can influence a wide range of things, including chronic UTI’s. Think about it this way, fear of leakage with exercise or activity can lead to a much more sedentary lifestyle and all the health problems that come with that.

There is a common misconception that for bladder health you need to pee anytime you feel the urge. That just isn’t the case. I quote Dr. Robbins: “Once you let your bladder rule you, it will continue to rule you.”

And it isn’t just Kegel’s exercises (for those of you who know what that means). It is more complex than that. And that’s where the pelvic health physical therapist comes in. Give them a call today.

Joe Black, PT, DPT, SCS, ATC is a physical therapist and athletic trainer at Blount Memorial Hospital’s Total Rehabilitation. Write to Joe at

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