Peeing in the Woods With Help From Your Pelvic Floor
In our “Pelvic Floor Health for the Trail” mini-series, pelvic floor physical therapist Dr. Lauren Trosch, PT, DPT, has helped us learn to be mindful of our pelvic floor to prepare for smoother pooping in the woods and provided us with some tips for new moms encountering challenges hiking postpartum.
This month, in our final interview in the series, Dr. Trosch answers all of our questions about peeing in the woods. If you’re wondering how to pee on trail with ease, read on for information about proper hydration, why to avoid “just in case” pees, and more.
Disclaimer: This interview is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
Interview With Dr. Lauren Trosch, PT, DPT, on How Your Pelvic Floor Relates to Peeing in the Woods
Peeing in the woods seems simple enough. Find a relatively private spot, do your business, carry on. But pelvic floor health can impact the ease with which some experience urination. Additionally, different trail habits like hydration or pee break frequency can impact your ability to pee in the woods.
Below, we chatted with Dr. Trosch to understand how we can take care of our pelvic floor to ensure good trail pees.
Gossamer Gear: How does our pelvic floor health impact urination? What challenges might hikers face if they’re experiencing challenges with their pelvic floor?
Dr. Trosch: The pelvic floor muscles help to support your bladder (which stores your pee) and your urethra (the tube through which pee travels). So, if your pelvic floor is not functioning optimally, this could contribute to leaking urine.
When you leak during exercise, hiking, laughing, sneezing, coughing—we call this stress incontinence or exertional incontinence. We believe this happens when the pressure above the pelvic floor is greater than what your pelvic floor can handle.
If you find you get the urge to pee and are leaking while on the way to the bathroom, we call this urge incontinence. Urge incontinence happens when your brain starts the process of peeing before you are ready to go.
What’s a normal frequency for how often hikers should be peeing during their trip? Are there any changes in urination they should be looking out for?
The amount you go to the bathroom depends on a number of factors, including how much you drink, what medications you’re taking, and even how nervous you are. But, in general, we consider going to the bathroom about every 2 to 4 hours or 2 to 5 hours typical—depending on who you ask. Of course, if you’re drinking a lot of water, you may go more frequently than every two hours. Hydration is very important on the trail, so you want to make sure your urine is not overly yellow or brown and you want to have a healthy stream.
Any tips for maintaining the right level of hydration while exercising? How often should hikers be drinking water while on trail?
Hydration is very important, especially if you’re hiking in hot weather. You should monitor your pee to make sure it’s colorless to light yellow.
So, sometimes peeing in the wilderness isn’t the most convenient or ideal situation. This might cause some of us to take a “just in case” pee before we hit the trail. Can you talk about what that is and why we should avoid taking those kinds of pees when possible?
So, it’s ideal to limit going to the bathroom “just in case” when possible. As your bladder fills with urine, your brain gets a signal that you need to pee. Usually, this happens when your bladder is almost about half full. You can pee at this point or hold it, and likely the urge will go away until your bladder is a bit more than halfway full.
There’s a concern that if you frequently go to the bathroom before you get the urge to go, you might start getting the signal/urge earlier than you normally would, which could lead to more frequent peeing. Of course, everyone goes to the bathroom “just in case” before they go to bed or every once in a while, which is fine. It may become a bother if you go every time you leave your home, every time you get back, before meals, in the shower, between meetings—you get it.
Ok, so, limit “just in case” pees, got it. But, what about holding it? Is it OK to hold it, and, if so, for how long?
So, that would depend on a number of factors like what you’re drinking, how much you’re drinking, medications, etc. Typically, you should be able to delay the first urge to go and it should go away. You can even ignore the second urge to go and the sensation to go should go away. If you’ve ignored those first two urges to go and get a third urge, it’s likely your bladder is pretty full and you probably really need to pee at this point.
Remember, typically people go about every 2 to 4 or 5 hours. So, if you’re holding it beyond that point and have been hydrating, that may be too much! On the other hand, if you’ve had a few coffees or alcoholic beverages, or have been drinking a lot of water, you may not make it to 2 hours between pees, and that’s typical.
Keep Hydrated and Watch Your Urges for Good Peeing in the Woods
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You might also enjoy some of our other posts on the Light Feet blog about hydration, peeing, and beyond: