Workouts Shouldn’t be Interrupted by Trips to the Bathroom

If you experience urinary incontinence while exercising, you may benefit from pelvic health physiotherapy.

Many clients let me know how inconvenient, embarrassing or annoying it is that they need to use the washroom multiple times while they are working out. They feel the need to urinate, and this feeling does not go away unless they visit the washroom, even if it is a “false alarm” (feeling a definite need to urinate, with disproportionately little volume coming out). Others may experience urinary leakage while performing their more effortful or higher impact exercises. For the competitive athlete, these symptoms may be heightened right before an event. Often, doing Kegels makes this situation worse.

If this is a familiar picture, then you may benefit from working with a pelvic health physiotherapist. Pelvic floor physiotherapy can help you to:

Balance your pelvic floor muscles
If your pelvic floor muscles are weak, tense, or a combination of these, they will not function optimally, making you more vulnerable to some of these symptoms.

Balance your entire inner core
If your deep abdominals or low back muscles are not working ideally, you may be overusing your pelvic floor, creating pain or impeding its ability to avoid leaks. At the same time, you may be using other strategies to support your body while you work out, such as holding your breath or gripping – these strategies can directly lead to urinary or faecal incontinence. 

Calm your nervous system (a.k.a. your “bodyguard”)
When faced with a stressful situation, your nervous system may become over-stimulated, leaving you with the feeling that you need to urinate, even if you have just emptied your bladder. This could happen before a competition, or simply if you are having a stressful day, and it’s usually reversible with some simple strategies.

Reset your nervous system
If your new normal is to urinate before, during, and after a workout, this may have created a new, powerful link in your nervous system so that it will give you the message that you need to urinate at these times, even though your bladder is not full. Physiotherapy can help you to build new links in your nervous system in order to reduce urinary frequency.

Build an optimum breathing strategy
Gripping excessively or holding your breath while you exercise can increase intra-abdominal pressure so much that it overpowers the strength of the pelvic floor muscles, leading to incontinence. Your optimal breathing strategy will include the coordination of your diaphragm (your breathing muscle) with your abdominals and your pelvic floor. 

Symptoms of urinary incontinence, frequency and pain are common, but in many instances they’re reversible. Pelvic health physiotherapy can help you to create new, more helpful strategies and patterns to get back to uninterrupted workouts.

Interested in learning more? Contact Michelle at

To book an appointment in Toronto or Bracebridge:

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