Why women aren’t seeking treatment for bladder leakage during exercise
In her blog post, physical therapist Tracy Sher applauds the video for bringing awareness to SUI but emphasizes that bladder leakage during exercise is not normal. She expresses concern that a medical condition has become “a goal to achieve as a marker of intensity.”
Another blogger and physical therapist, Julie Weiebe, created a survey in response to the video. She found that about 60% of her respondents leaked urine during exercise, but only 13% sought treatment. In contrast, about 65% of individuals who experience joint pain sought treatment. Despite the low percentage of women who sought treatment, only about 4% of individuals actually thought leaking during exercise was normal, and 80% were interested in integrating pelvic floor exercises into their workouts.
The Australian Physiotherapy Association posted an article titled “CrossFit Games sends disturbing message” in response to the video. The article cites Shan Morrison, a women’s health physiotherapist and continence specialist, who says, “This video is shocking … It is not normal to lose urine during exercise or at any other time. It should certainly not be seen as a ‘badge of honor.’ For a company that prides itself on promoting exercise, CrossFit Inc is not sending a positive health message.”
As a culture, CrossFit emphasizes extreme effort. Although this kind of effort is admirable, in some cases it can go too far, normalizing peeing, puking, or even fainting. Women with bladder leakage during exercise might not be inclined to seek medical attention if they think leaking urine during their workouts is because of strenuous effort. As seen in the video, the indicators of extreme effort are worn as a badge of honor, even if they actually indicate a medical condition.