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5 Things You Need To Know About Stress Urinary Incontinence Ahead Of Running The London Marathon

Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI) is a very common condition, affecting an estimated 30% of women worldwide. The condition can have a significant impact on daily life affecting activities, relationships and emotional well-being. Two thirds of these women suffering from SUI are undiagnosed.

A recent survey showed that around 9 out of 10 women living with SUI are likely to simply “put up with” the condition, rather than seeking treatment and advice, despite any negative effects on their quality of life, relationships or ability to exercise. SUI happens when physical movement or activity, such as sneezing, coughing, running or heavy lifting, puts pressure on the bladder.

For those suffering with SUI, running the Virgin Money London Marathon may be a daunting experience with worries of “leaking” en-route. Many women avoid exercise altogether as they are embarrassed about the condition, however, women will be reassured to know that as many as 45% of elite athletes, including runners and triathletes, experience SUI during sporting activity.

Mr Steve Foley, Consultant Urologist at the Royal Berkshire NHS Trust (Reading), discusses everything women need to know about their SUI ahead of running the London Marathon:

  1. You aren’t the only person suffering with SUI – Last year more than 40,000 people took part in the London Marathon and with 30% of women being affected by SUI, it is safe to say that you won’t be the only person suffering on the day. The running community is very supportive and understand that the marathon is incredibly physical, literally blood, sweat and tears!
  2. Don’t let yourself get dehydrated – Most runners with SUI instinctively try drinking less water to prevent the need to go to the toilet. However, dehydration concentrates your urine, irritating the sensitive lining of your bladder and sugary sports drinks can worsen the problem. Waterregulates your body temperature and helps transport nutrients to give you energy and keep you If you’re not hydrated, your body can’t perform at its highest level. Alternatively, while drinking water when running is important, drinking every 10 to 20 minutes is enough to hydrate your body. Too much water will fill your bladder quickly, resulting in a sudden need to urinate.
  3. Make sure you include pelvic floor exercises in your regime Exercising the pelvic floor muscles will improve incontinence in the majority of those who do them consistently and correctly. Isolating the correct muscle is difficult for some, especially if the muscles have become very weak. Having an exercise plan and sticking to it makes a difference in results. Exercise aides can assist with doing these exercises correctly.
  4. Make sure you know where the toilets are located on the route – If you are worried about needing the toilet during the London Marathon, it is a good idea to know where the toilets are located, so you can relieve yourself if necessary. Toilets are available at all the starts, at mile one then every two miles along the course up to and including 24 miles.
  5. Surgical procedures can be minimally invasive and stop leaking altogetherBulking agents, which are generally lesser known than surgical approaches to treating SUI, are a minimally invasive treatment which means no cutting of the patient’s tissue or skin. They are a safe and effective treatment for stress urinary incontinence which have been used for over 10 years. In my clinic, we use Bulkamid® a water-based gel that helps the bladder neck to close when needed to help prevent bladder leaks and has an 80% success rate when used as a first line treatment. Many of my patients have been shocked by how quickly they are able to return to their normal routines after minimally invasive treatments, such as bladder bulking, and have no more leaks when partaking in exercise, sneezing or even using a trampoline with their kids. After this form of surgery a lady may return to running within 72hrs.

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