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Best Sports and Exercises for Anyone Living with Incontinence

While there are many exercises and sports that are advantageous for people living with incontinence, there are several that should be avoided.

6 min read
Best Sports and Exercises for Anyone Living with Incontinence
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Best Sports and Exercises for Anyone Living with Incontinence

A regular exercise routine is essential to one's overall health. While there are many exercises and sports that are advantageous for people living with incontinence, there are several that should be avoided.

Best Sports and Exercises for Anyone Living with Incontinence

A regular exercise routine is essential to one's overall health. While there are many exercises and sports that are advantageous for people living with incontinence, there are several that should be avoided.

Incontinence affect a significant portion of the population in the UK, with an estimated 14 million individuals experiencing issues related to the bladder and 6.5 million experiencing bowel problems. In some cases, those managing continence might cut back on their social life, distance themselves from family and friends, and even miss days of work. Unfortunately, incontinence might also have an impact on the exercise routine.

Exercise and staying physically active are important components of continence management. Not only is it vital to overall healthy living, but it can assist in minimising the impact of incontinence through strengthening and protecting the pelvic floor.

The correlation between the pelvic floor and incontinence

A pelvic floor is a group of muscles and ligaments which support the bladder, uterus and bowel. It stretches from the pubic bone to the coccyx. It’s responsible for holding pelvic organs together, playing a crucial role in opening and closing off the urinary and anal sphincters.

Some high-impact aerobic or resistance exercises are more likely to place downward pressure on the pelvic floor, leading to stretching and weakening of the pelvic floor muscles. Hence, it’s important for those with incontinence to consider the impact of certain exercises.

The good news is that you can support your body's natural continence control mechanisms by picking sports or exercises that promote pelvic floor strengthening (rather than weakening).

These are our top considerations:

1. Minimise high-impact aerobic exercises

High-impact aerobic exercises such as skipping, running and jumping can lead to downwards pressure on the pelvic floor. Sports where you change direction suddenly can have a similar impact.

Instead, consider low-impact activities such as:

  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Water aerobics
  • Cycling
  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Tai Chi

You can still reap the benefits of aerobic exercise without increasing your risk of pelvic floor damage or further weakening an already compromised pelvic floor.

2. Engage in resistance training

Resistance and core-strengthening exercises often put additional strain on the pelvic floor, which can be harmful over time. However, resistance training may be quite helpful for those with incontinence issues when it is done correctly.

Whether you have a strong pelvic floor or not, it’s recommended to squeeze your pelvic floor muscles before doing any resistance activity. This is the same technique that’s useful before sneezing, coughing or doing anything else that might lead to a urinary leak. By doing this, you support your pelvic floor and ensure its ongoing protection.

Avoid lifting heavy weights or undertaking exercises that require you to strain or hold your breath, as these can have negative impacts on your pelvic floor. Swiss balls are often useful and can be utilised to build strength without risking the integrity of your pelvic floor. Standing or squatting exercises need to be navigated with your legs no further apart than shoulder width, and deep lunges should be avoided.

3. Modify your training routine

In general, sports and exercises that are low-impact (such as pilates, yoga or swimming) are of more benefit to those experiencing incontinence than high-impact activities (such as F45 or CrossFit).

If you routinely attend gym classes and exercise with a demanding personal trainer who encourages you to push yourself to the limit, you might want to reconsider attending this class.

Remember that it is your body and your workout, so reject any urge to push your pelvic floor beyond its limits. Instead, make tweaks or minor changes to your workout:

  • Decrease the depth of your lunges and squats
  • Train with your legs positioned closer together
  • Use lighter weights and increase repetitions
  • Try using seated exercise equipment with adjustable weights
  • As you exercise, keep a comfortable, upright posture
  • Reduce the intensity of your abdominal muscles training program
  • Make sure you always exhale on exertion and avoid holding your breath while exercising

4. Strengthen your pelvic floor with Kegels

Pelvic floor exercises are considered to be the most effective method of treating urinary incontinence, particularly in competitive sports. Exercises for the pelvic floor can be very beneficial for both men and women. The benefits of undertaking a simple pelvic floor exercise routine include:

  • Reduced risk of vaginal and rectal prolapse
  • Increased bowel and bladder control
  • Increased chances of recovery after childbirth or prostate surgery

The most common form of pelvic floor exercise is Kegel, which works by tightening the muscles that control the flow of urine.

It’s easy to practice Kegel training by following a few simple steps:

Start by sitting in a comfortable position and visualising the muscles that control the flow of your urine. Tighten these muscles as firmly as you can, holding them for 3-5 seconds. You’ll feel a sense of the muscles lifting upwards as a result of this squeeze. Release the muscles, taking a few seconds to rest. Repeat this 10 times, and you’ve completed a Kegel strengthening exercise. It’s an easy activity to undertake throughout the day, whether at home or in public.

Another version of this exercise is called the ‘squeeze and release’. Here, a rapid-fire movement increases the strength of the pelvic floor muscle and its response time.

Sit in a comfortable position and visualise the pelvic floor muscles. Next, squeeze them as quickly as possible before releasing them without any attempt to sustain a contraction. Take a breather for 3-5 seconds before repeating the movement 10-20 times. Repeat this exercise 3 times throughout the day to continue building your pelvic floor muscles with regularity.

5. Use the right continence management products during exercise

With the right continence management products, you’re free to engage with any sport of your choosing, provided you make the most of pelvic floor strengthening activities and equip yourself with the knowledge of what’s best for your particular needs at each moment in time.

For those with continence management challenges, leaking during exercise may be something that’s getting in the way of your ability to confidently build an exercise routine. By finding the right continence management products, you can exercise with peace of mind, knowing you’re protected against leakages.

ConfidenceClub’s wide range of continence management products makes it easier than ever to find the right product for your needs. Whether you experience light or heavy leakages, a ConfidenceClub product specialist team member can expertly match you with the right products for your needs.

ConfidenceClub’s It Fits Or It’s Free money back guarantee means you will find the right product. If for any reason the product you purchase does not meet your needs, we will swap it over for you at our cost, and if that still isn’t right for you, we will provide a full refund.

We offer discreet delivery to your door, removing the hassle of shopping for continence management products in store. Our objective is to help all our customers Live their Best Lives, with Confidence.