A US study from 1990 found 38% of female runners reported stress incontinence. Their average age was 38. The rate in younger women who haven't given birth was still a surprising 28%. Keep Runner Emma Salkild talks about her problems with “leakage”. She also chats to Michael from iMove Physiotherapy about the best way to deal with stress urinary incontinence.
I could see the finish line straight up ahead. Beautiful Sydney Harbour was on my right while literally thousands of people, my friends included, were on my left cheering. I started taking longer strides. Even though my face was hot and sweaty I was beaming. When a small amount of warm wetness trickled between my legs I put it down to sweat and kept running, feeling stronger than ever.
A few weeks later during another run I felt warm liquid once again. This time there was more of it and no denying … I had wet myself.
The next week I completed a running challenge from run leader, Mel Warman. We were told to run ‘The Bay’ by ourselves as fast as we can. It was eye opening because I ended up doing a much better time than I could ever have imagined. The other thing I couldn’t believe? I didn’t leak a drop. Not even when I sprinted.
I realised then I had no idea when I was going to leak. It was out of my control and this caused me anxiety. I didn’t need any more surprises. What I needed was the help of a professional.
But where to start? I’ve been a patient of both Dan and Bridget at iMove who are fantastic physiotherapists. So why couldn’t I go in and be honest? I think it comes down to a lot of stigma and shame around stress incontinence. Also, going to iMove feels like a little treat – I get a massage, listen to cool tunes and always have a laugh with the guys there. But I didn’t want them to know I was someone who pees their pants.
A few weeks passed and I finally got the guts to talk to Michael from iMove – first privately via email. And of course, he was completely understanding. Since being honest about it I feel so much better. I can now crack jokes about it. I can EVEN write a public blog post on the topic.
So, if like me, you’ve experienced some leakage here’s what Michael from iMove suggests to do:
"First of all don't be embarrassed,” Michael says. “We see it all the time. In most cases it will get better over time with simple home exercises.”
“Secondly the most important thing is call your physio and book in,” Michael continues. “Ask for a private consult so you feel more comfortable about it. Although most male physios are qualified to handle the situation you can ask for a female physio if that makes you feel more comfortable.”
iMove closes between 11am and 2pm. However, during this time they do book in patients such as mums with bubs or people who want to discuss more private or sensitive matters. So if you want to come in for a chat you can make sure you are the only one who will be in the clinic.
In the meantime, Michael suggests an exercise that is a helpful starting point. “Next time you need to wee, count to three before letting go,” he explains. “Then the next time count to four and so on and so on and so on. This is a simple task that can be done several times daily and you will see yourself improve on a weekly basis."
To contact the physiotherapists privately you can email:
Michael – email@example.com
Daniel – firstname.lastname@example.org
Bridget – email@example.com
Further reading on women and stress incontinence