This is going to be Part 1 of a 2-part series. Part 1 is going to be looking at how to COACH your running so your peeing less. Part 2 is going to look at some exercises and drills you can use to improve your symptoms.
First lets start with the fact that a lot of women experience peeing while they’re running.
Peeing while running is a form of stress urinary incontinence. This is a pelvic health issue. It can happen because you need a stronger pelvic floor or you’re too tight.
Pelvic floor conditions like leaking when you run happen more often than you would think. A survey in 2021 (
showed that 37% of women, whether they’ve had babies or not, leak when they run.
But you want to know what to do about it … and that’s where we come in!
Running Technique Matters with Pelvic Issues
Before you stop running… let’s try to correct some things. The reason why you are peeing might be because of HOW you are running. We are going to break down 8 technique switches you can try to see if it makes you leak less.
1. Don’t KEGEL
I know when we are peeing when we don’t want to, the instinct is to tighten those pelvic floor muscles. The hard part is if you have a 60 minute run, you can’t Kegel the whole time. That’s exhausting on those muscles.
Also, with running, your pelvic floor is contracting and relaxing as you strike your feet down. It is also doing that work involuntarily. We aren’t fast enough in our control to do that. Instead, we focus on our breathing to try to give the pelvic floor some help.
2. Control Your Breathing
Our breathing should something we are trying hard to control. Controlled deep breaths can help keep your heart rate lower and help your pelvic floor.
3. Land Soft
Many people will have issues with their pelvic floor related to IMPACT. So activities like jumping and running tend to see a higher amount of issues. The louder our steps are when we run, the more impact going through the pelvic floor.
Making our steps quieter means our pelvic floor doesn’t have to work so hard.
4. Slow Down
The faster we sprint or jog, the more the muscles in our core and the pelvic floor have to work. Have you ever had sore abs after doing a sprint workout? That’s because in order for us to generate more speed, our body needs to kick our core muscles into high gear. The pelvic floor is a part of our core system and so it needs to work harder too.
5. Increase your Cadence/ Make your Steps Smaller
Your cadence is the amount of steps you take per minute when you run. You want to hit a sweet spot when it comes to your running cadence. If you are taking too few steps, you end up over-striding and that can make more work for the pelvic floor.
Ideally, your cadence will be 160-180 steps per minute. If you don’t know what your cadence is, you can use a Metronome to figure it out. Apps like The Metronome for Apple
can be super helpful to train. It’ll take some time to get used to but can make your leaking issues a lot less (and reduce your risk for other injuries).
6. Avoid Arching Your Back
When you run, you want to keep your rib cage stacked over your pelvis. Our core is like a box. It is strongest when both sides of the box are equal. If we arch, we stretch the front of the box. To make it strongest, we drop our ribs over our pelvis.
The best way to think of this is to set up like someone was going to punch you in the belly. Immediately that makes us bring our ribs down.
7. Lean Slightly Forward
We like to think of running like controlled falling. We lean forward but then catch ourselves by moving our feet. The position of our trunk helps us with speed. If we lean back as we run, it will slow us down. It will also make us more likely to arch our backs. Leaning forward a bit can help with pelvic positioning to avoid leaking.
8. Start Running in Intervals.
Our knee-jerk reaction can be to remove running if we are peeing. We don’t want to make that decision too fast. If we want to improve our tolerance for running without leaking, we need to run!
Intervals are a great way to introduce running again and not push into leaking. The first thing you need to figure out is WHEN you leak. Do you leak on step 1 or mile 3? If you leak 5 minutes into your workout, do intervals of 4 minutes of running and 1-2 minutes of rest. Then repeat. Over time, you increase your running interval or take less rest. Circuits can be great for this as well.
At the Barbell Mamas, we really strongly believe in coaching a movement first before we scale it back. Running is a favourite pastime for lots of people and it’s an easy way to exercise with kiddos.
One last point: Stroller Running
For many moms, getting out for a run with the stroller is the easiest way to get exercise in with little ones. This is AMAZING! If you are leaking when you are pushing the stroller, know it is because this is WAY HARDER than running alone. It is like a resisted run. You may not have any issues without it. The same rules of running outlined above apply.
If you have any other questions, let us know!
We incorporate running into our postpartum CrossFit programs.