CrossFit Games sends disturbing message

24 June 2013

As World Continence Week begins, the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) has heavily criticised a video produced by the Reebok CrossFit Games competition titled ‘Do you pee during workouts?

The video producers interview women at CrossFit competitions about what they term ‘EIUL’ or exercised induced urinary leakage. The video shows women losing bladder control during competition, and sends the message that this is normal, and even something to be proud of. This message flies in the face of research supporting rehabilitation for the pelvic floor and it puts women at risk of bladder problems, loss of bowel control, and prolapse of the pelvic organs.

‘The video is shocking, disturbing, and normalises this debilitating condition. It is not normal to lose urine during exercise or at any other time and it should certainly not be seen as a “badge of honour”,’ said Specialist Continence and Women’s Health Physiotherapist Shan Morrison. ‘For a company that prides itself on promoting exercise, CrossFit Inc is not sending a positive health message.’

Incontinence is a serious health issue facing almost five million Australians. The correct term for loss of control of urine during situations such as exercising, coughing and sneezing, is stress urinary incontinence (SUI).

‘Urinary incontinence or loss of bladder control can have a significant impact on your health, general well-being and self-esteem. It is a sign that there is underlying pelvic floor dysfunction which could potentially lead to other bladder problems, loss of bowel control and prolapse of the pelvic organs,’ said Morrison.

‘It was most disturbing to see a gynaecologist in the video express that, in her professional opinion, it was ok to urinate when working out. By stating that we needed to invent “something” to help these women, she clearly demonstrated that she hasn’t kept up to date with the strong evidence that shows urinary incontinence can be successfully treated by pelvic floor rehabilitation under the supervision of a specifically trained physiotherapist.’

One in three women who have had a baby experience SUI, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

An Australian study* has shown that up to 85 per cent of women with incontinence can be successfully treated by continence and women’s health physiotherapist.
CrossFit is a rapidly growing fitness trend that combines intense and strenuous levels of explosive plyometrics, strength training, weight lifting, kettle bells, body weight exercises, gymnastics, and endurance exercises. The Reebok CrossFit Games video has had more than 130 000 views on YouTube.

24 - 30 June 2013 is World Continence Week.

For further information, please contact:
Erik Froese
Australian Physiotherapy Association
P: (+61) 3 9092 0829   M (+61) 457 963 675  

* Neumann, P.B., et al., The costs and benefits of physiotherapy as first-line treatment for female stress urinary incontinence. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 2005. 29(5): p. 416-421.