Marathon runners, scientists say that you may be up against more than just shin splints and chafing on race day, but incontinence as well, especially for women.
"The added stress on the body that comes with running a marathon can cause urinary stress incontinence problems during the race or down the road," says Dr. Melinda Abernethy of Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. "People who already suffer from incontinence also are at risk for bladder-control issues while running."
Announced Thursday, researchers from Loyola University Health System will partner with the Chicago Area Runners Association to study the relationship between long-distance running and pelvic floor disorders, such as urinary incontinence, all in hopes of better understanding how endurance running affects bladder health.
Tips for runners
Until their results offer some clues, Abernethy suggests that runners monitor their fluid intake on race day and make bathroom stops at least every few hours during a marathon.
"Putting off going to the bathroom during the race is not healthy for your bladder," she adds. "Runners also should avoid diuretics, such as coffee or tea, before the race, because this can stimulate the bladder and cause you to visit the bathroom more frequently."
If you suffer from incontinence, talk to your doctor. He or she may suggest pelvic floor exercises such as Kegels, which could help runners prevent urine leakage during the race, Abernethy adds.