Urinary Incontinence

I never knew there was physical therapy for Urinary Incontinence! Can you explain how physical therapy addresses this problem of mine?

Before we dive into how physical therapy can help urinary incontinence, it is important to know the different types of urinary incontinence.

1. Urge Incontinence:

Having an abnormal increased urge to urinate that can cause increased urinary frequency. Sometimes leakage of urine will occur before you make it to the bathroom.

2. Stress Incontinence:

Leaking of urine during activities such as coughing, sneezing, laughing, or exercising

3. Mixed Incontinence:

You can have overlap of both stress and urge incontinence with feelings of both urgency and leaking.

4. Functional Incontinence:

Something relating to physical or neurological reasons limits the person from getting to the bathroom even if they have an awareness they need to urinate. Examples may include a patient with dementia, Parkinson’s, or an orthopedic issue that limits them from navigating to the bathroom.

Often these types of urinary incontinence occur because of a failure in our bodily system such as inability to regulate intra-abdominal pressures (such as a weightlifter who valsalva’s), pelvic floor muscle weakness, lack of pelvic floor muscle coordination, injury during childbirth (such as an aggressive forceps delivery), poor bladder habits,  and even entering menopause that results in losing vaginal tissue quality. An evaluation with a physical therapist would include a full assessment to determine what factors cause your urinary incontinence followed by an appropriate rehabilitation plan to decrease or possibly eliminate your incontinence. Leaking urine at any age is not normal, and it occurs in all ages, not just older women and men. In fact, a study of 86 high school and college athletes showed that 28% reported SUI during sport and 92% of those with urinary incontinence never reported their symptoms. If you are using a pad everyday, you don’t have to! Participating in physical therapy often can improve your problem and also prevent future problems down the road as you age by addressing the problem sooner than later.


Heath, A, Folan S, Ripa B, et al. Stress urinary incontinence in female athletes. J WomensHealthPhysTherap. 2014; 38(3):104-109