how running mums can protect their pelvic floor from impact.....
Updated: Apr 24
When we run, each time our feet make contact with the ground the impact is in part absorbed by the pelvic floor. Over time, the effect this has is to stretch and weaken the pelvic floor muscles and the ligamentous support structures of the pelvic organs. These connective tissues are already vulnerable post birth due to the hormonal changes of pregnancy so anything we can do to lessen the impact on the pelvic floor is a bonus! Here are some top tips for just that.... ➡️ In an ideal world, all Mums would have access to post birth specialist women's health Physiotherapy to assess your pelvic floor. If you can't access this via the NHS, consider booking a One Stop Mum Check at St Judes Clinic to evaluate your readiness for running https://www.stjudesclinic.com/treatments/postnatal-care/ ➡️ Running will cause a jiggle of your pelvic organs inside you, just like other parts of you go up and down when you run! Aim to empty your bowel and bladder prior to running to lessen the pressure and load inside. ➡️ It might seem obvious, but good running shoes will absorb some of the impact ➡️ Try to avoid downhill runs and stick to flat terrain. Downhill running increases the impact of your body weight on the pelvic floor. ➡️ Reduce distances. When you go further, the repeated impact will gradually cause fatigue, strain and then failure of the pelvic floor which may lead to leaking and over time put you at risk of pelvic organ prolapse. Try to mix distance runs with more frequent but shorter runs instead of repeated long distance road runs. ➡️ Think about your running style. High speed running and a long stride length increases impact on the pelvic floor. ➡️ Aim to run on softer surfaces where possible for example gravel, grass or sand. Repeated running on hard road surfaces or treadmills places greater strain on the pelvic floor. ➡️ Manage your body weight. People who are overweight will be placing more load on their soft tissues, joints, connective tissue and pelvic floor musculature while running. You may want to limit running volume and use other types of training to aid weight loss for example low impact HIIT workouts, swimming or cycling. ➡️ Invest in some support garments. If you experienced prolapse post birth (that's 1 in 2 of us, yours may well be asymptomatic) or abdominal separation, a pair of EVB shorts or Capri pants from www.evbsport.com will nicely reduce the jiggle and provide some support for your tummy and undercarriage. These running shorts are a medical garment rather than 'sportswear' designed by engineers which with their re-inforced stitching help keep everything nicely in place. ➡️ Invest some time and energy in strength and conditioning exercises alongside running to work your 'outside' muscles. Your butt muscles and believe it your calves too play a huge role in absorbing running impact - it they are strong and functioning well it will lessen the strain on your pelvic floor. Runners often ONLY want to run, which puts then at risk of developing aches and pains from their running. A strong butt and defined calf muscles can help avoid this more than you think! If you would like some expert guidance to assist your pelvic floor and abdominal recovery, you can access this via my online Physio led postnatal pilates classes. I'll teach you modified pilates exercises that are specifically designed for the postnatal population, drawing on my many years of clinical experience as a Chartered Physiotherapist. We can pave your way back to running, fitness classes and jumping without pelvic discomfort and leaking, through postnatal rehab.
Free trials are available should you wish to try a class with me. Further details on my online postnatal classes can be found here.
Mother Nurture Pilates | Physiotherapist led Antenatal & Postnatal Pilates classes