Run for the Bathroom

Bladder control problems could plague marathon runners

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Marathon runners face more than just 'the wall' and shin splints when race day comes around. Bladder health sneaks under the radar for some runners.

Researchers from Loyola University Health System surveyed runners in the Chicago-area marathon over the weekend to see if there's a link between pelvic-floor disorders and running.

"Experiencing bladder-control problems? See a doctor."

“This study will help us to better understand the link between endurance running and pelvic-floor disorders, including incontinence,” said Melinda Abernethy, MD, fellow in the Division of Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery at Loyola University Chicago, in a press release.

Running can cause urinary stress incontinence, or urine loss, which is the most common form of incontinence. It also affects women more than men.

And participating in a marathon can place extra stress on the body.

This stress can make it difficult to go to the bathroom during the race or down the road, according to Dr. Abernethy.

“People who already suffer from incontinence also are at risk for bladder-control issues while running," she said.

Researchers recommend avoiding coffee, tea and other diuretics before the race. They can stimulate the bladder and cause more frequent visits to the bathroom.

Performing Kegel and other pelvic floor exercises help strengthen the bladder, uterus, rectum and small intestine, Dr. Abernethy notes.

And until more is known, runners should watch how much fluid they're drinking and make a trip to the bathroom every few hours during a marathon.

“Putting off going to the bathroom during the race is not healthy for your bladder,” Dr. Abernethy said.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
October 7, 2012
Last Updated:
October 9, 2012