6 Tips to Stop Peeing During Double Unders
Whether it’s talked about, joked about or totally dismissed, peeing during double unders and impact exercise in general is a thing. We often see this at CrossFit classes, where women run to the restroom before the workout, or pee their pants mid workout.
Contrary to popular belief, this symptom is not exclusive to pregnant or postpartum people. Teenagers, elite athletes, mothers and menopausal people can also experience incontinence doing high impact exercise like jump rope, box jumps, plyos and running.
We are not here to shame this symptom, rather, we would like to bring attention to what can be done to help troubleshoot it.
Let’s start by defining incontinence. To put it simply, it’s leaking urine (or sometimes feces) unintentionally. This can happen from a sneeze, a heavy lift, during high impact exercise and/or the inability to hold it for longer periods of time.
If we are supporting female athletes across their lifetime of fitness, their pelvic health should be considered by both coaches and the athletes themselves.
Here’s 6 tips you can try to troubleshoot peeing during double unders:
Schedule a consultation with a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist. A one time consultation can give you GREAT feedback about your body. We often think that peeing is because athletes have a “weak” pelvic floor and should do more kegals. However! A majority of athletes actually have an overly activated pelvic floor, where they hold a lot of tension. Basically, their vaginas and butts are constantly holding an isometric contraction, and we need the pelvic floor muscles to be dynamic and responsive to a variety of tasks (jumping, sneezing, etc). A Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist can help assess.
This may seem counter intuitive, but when jumping (start with single unders), don’t suck in your stomach. When you suck it in, your vagina also clenches and generates more tension. Let your stomach go. It’s ok. Face a wall if your need to. You likely didn’t realize you were sucking in your stomach and the influence it has on your pelvic health.
Lean forward slightly when you jump. Do a few revolutions and adjust that positioning into a slight forward lean. This helps adjust your rib cage to pelvis position, which puts your pelvic floor in an improved position to absorb force. Try looking straight in front of you instead of up to maintain this slightly forward (which is really just a more neutral position). A cue I like for higher impact exercise in respect to pelvic health is, “tits over toes.” Hey, it works.
Exhale more often. This does not have to be timed with every single revolution, but an exhale helps the core system respond to higher demand, dynamic exercise. These can be short, quick breaths out.
Build your symptom threshold. If you start to leak at 20 double unders, stop, rest and make some of the adjustments above. You may not be ready to do that many reps, so can you break it up into sets of 5 or 10 at a time? Building symptom threshold takes time and practice. Perhaps single unders are less mentally and physically taxing for you, and therefore, less complex for your pelvic floor. Manipulate volume and intensity as needed. If you’re not ready or comfortable jumping at all, scale down with exercises that help build to impact (a few gentle jump squats to get comfortable absorbing force, for example).
Film yourself to see what your tendencies are, and take note of what your body does when you feel like you’re about to leak, or do leak. If you get the urge around 20 reps, but don’t leak until 30, see what you noticed in your form. We can troubleshoot from the outside in! Maybe your ribs thrusted up and your butt was squeezed and tucked under. Lean forward slightly to adjust your position and tension. Maybe you started to hold your breath? Exhale more intentionally. Learn to assess your tendencies, and make needed adjustments.
Pelvic health is complex, and should be taken seriously. It may not feel like a big deal, and maybe it’s not right now to you, but it can impact quality of life long term, in pregnancy, postpartum, menopause and aging, with pelvic and bowel wellness, or pursuing higher demand exercise. We want you to feel confident, doing all exercises and activities of daily living without embarrassment or compromise throughout your lifetime.
If these tips were confusing, I coached a postpartum athlete on troubleshooting double unders in this video.
Brianna Battles, MS, CSCS