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Can Your Hips Be Causing Your Incontinence?

Updated: Aug 17, 2021

Ever sneezed or coughed and started to feel like you were going to pee in your pants or maybe even experience some loss of urine.

It can so embarrassing!!

Urinary incontinence is a multi-faceted problem, it rarely ever is a single problem area. Most people consider urinary incontinence to be only a pelvic floor problem.

It’s not just in your pelvic floor….

Your hips may be to blame too.

As a women’s health professional, I work hard to help myth bust the belief that incontinence is incurable or a natural part of aging.

Because honestly, it really is possible to fix urinary incontinence…

Let me explain the key hip muscles that can contribute or be causing your incontinence.

Let’s introduce some hip muscles

The obturator internus, piriformis, levator ani, and coccygeus muscles all form the pelvic diaphragm. Each of these muscles work as stabilizers for your pelvis. The most involved muscles when it comes to stress incontinence are the levator ani muscle and the obturator internus muscle. By the way these are my favorite muscles to talk about.

The levator ani is collection of three muscles: puborectalis, pubococcygeus, and iliococcygeus. The major function of the levator ani muscle is supporting and raising up the pelvic structures like your bladder, rectum, uterus, and stabilizing your abdominal muscles. It play an important role in urinary voiding, defecation, and sexual function. The levator ani muscle will resists intra-abdominal pressure that can be caused by sneezing and coughing.

Ok Nicole now explain that in plain English

When the levator anti muscle is working well with your pelvic floor muscles, you can sneeze or cough without leaking. Think about a sneeze and what happens in your body. Your abdomen quickly fills up with pressure that is then forced downward toward your pelvic floor. If the levator ani and or pelvic floor is not working well together, BAM You get a leak.

The levator ani muscle is quite fascinating especially since it plays a large role, when a woman is in labor and delivering a baby.

Did you know!

The levator ani muscles and pelvic floor undergo changes during the second stage of labor to dilate enough for a woman to be able to deliver a baby. Studies have shown that 13% to 36% of women after vaginal birth had experienced injury to the levator ani muscle.

Let’s shine some light on the second muscle I mentioned the obturator internus also known as (OI). The obturator internus is the deep muscle of hip joint which is also part of lateral wall of pelvis. The OI moves you hip through lateral and external rotation, abduction, and stabilizes your hip joint. There are times when this muscle may develop Trigger points. This can create symptoms of urinary frequency, urinary burning, itching, tingling, shooting pains into the groin and abdomen, just to name a few.

The obturator internus and the piriformis are the muscles that are part of the lateral wall of the pelvis. This often makes it difficult in distinguishing whether someone has piriformis syndrome vs OI dysfunction. OI dysfunction is tricky cause most people can’t pinpoint the pain area exactly. For example, they may have pain on the lateral side of their hip, or the pain in the buttock region. Then on another day they might describe a burning-type of pain at the insertion point of their hamstring muscle (the “sit bone”). For some people they may be experiencing pain in all three locations of pain at the same time.

This is not to say that urinary incontinence is solely related to possible hip tightness/weakness. Anyone can also experience this in combination to having pelvic floor dysfunction. This blog is to help understand just how complex urinary incontinence can be.

What can you do?


Hip stretches and strengthening exercises (and watch your form!)

Avoid sitting for long periods of time

Always consult with a pelvic floor specialist who can help identify the root cause and develop a plan to help stop the leaks. This is simply for education and suggestive purposes, this in no way should be considered medical advice or used without consulting your physician or pelvic floor OT.

Thank you for reading & subscribing


Nicole Muriel MOT OTR/L

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