Urinary incontinence affects up to one in five Canadian women. Stresses induced on the pelvic floor during high impact activities such as running are associated with reports of urine leakage during these activities. This experience of “stress urinary incontinence” ultimately leads women to withdraw from these activities, and inactivity can lead to adverse health outcomes later in life. Little is known about the mechanisms that underpin urine leakage during physical activity; damage to the pelvic floor muscles or their surrounding connective tissues, pelvic floor muscle fatigue, elevated intra-abdominal pressure or high impact forces experienced by the pelvic floor may all play a role. Conservative management approaches such as physiotherapy and intravaginal pessaries can be effective for many women suffering from stress urinary incontinence who report leakage during everyday activities such as coughing or laughing, yet the best approach to managing incontinence in women who predominantly leak urine during physical activity is not known. Through this study we will investigate anatomical and mechanical properties of the pelvic floor muscles in female runners who do and who do not leak urine during running to determine whether there are structural or mechanical differences at rest, and differences induced after a single bout of running. For the runners participating in this study we require that people run a minimum of 2 times per week; a minimum of 10km total per week; are able to run 5km in 50 minutes or less; and have been doing this consistently for a minimum of 1 year.
We will also investigate the anatomical and mechanical properties of the pelvic floor muscles in sedentary (less active) females. For the purposes of this study we are defining sedentary as not engaging in an exercise program or activities above one’s activities of daily living.
The results of this study will provide insight into which conservative therapies may be most effective to allow active women to continue to engage in physical activities without leaking urine. Our long-term goal is to mitigate women’s withdrawal from physical activities because of urine leakage, which will ultimately allow women to maintain or improve their health and quality of life.
- women 18+ years old
- BMI ≤30
- Runners: run at least 2 times per week; a minimum total of 10km per week; can run 5km in 50 minutes or less; for at least one year. Both women with and without urine leakage during running
- Sedentary Women: physical activity is kept to activities of daily living, both women with and without urine leakage