08 Jul How Running Affects Your Pelvic Floor
If you’re a female runner, be aware of how running affects your pelvic floor, and learn how to take care of it and prevent problems like urine leakage or organ prolapse.
According to Kathrine Switzer, the first female runner to participate in a marathon in the United States, “the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other can change your life.’’ If you are a female runner, you know that running is not only a test of mental toughness, but also physical toughness. In addition to the most common injuries, running is also a contributing factor to the weakening of a woman’s pelvic floor that may result in problems such as urinary incontinence or organ prolapse.
How does running affect the pelvic floor?
The pelvic floor is a group of muscles and tissues located in the lower part of the pelvis and whose function is to support the pelvic organs: the uterus, bladder and intestines. In addition, the pelvic floor acts as a cushion against pressure coming from abdomen and directed toward the pelvic area (such as a sneeze). For these reasons, it’s important to keep your pelvic floor strong and healthy to avoid problems like urine leakage and improve your intimate health.
Running on a regular basis is one of the risk factors that leads to pelvic floor damage. Do you know why? When running, our entire body takes on the impact in a circular motion for a prolonged period of time (we’re talking about an average of 6000 hits per hour). In each stride, the impact puts pressure on the pelvic area, and the muscles of the pelvic floor are in charge of cushioning it. However, with time the excess pressure causes the pelvic floor to “give way” and weaken. And a weak pelvic floor can create problems like urine loss (even in young women), discomfort during sex, constipation, back pain and a higher risk of organ prolapse.
What should I do if I’m a female runner?
If you run regularly:
- Be aware of your pelvic floor muscles and how running affects them.
- You’ll need to work the muscles of the pelvic floor and abdomen in a specific way. It’s the most efficient way to compensate for the excess impact and keep them strong.
If you keep running without considering the possible effects, issues such as urine loss when coughing, sneezing, running, or lifting weights may appear. There is also the risk of organ prolapse (organs out of place or “fallen”). If you have any of these symptoms, your pelvic floor is showing signs of weakness. In this case running is not advised because it will make the condition and symptoms worse.
Is running good for me? Take the test.
- Download Bwom here, the pelvic floor health app and take the test (1 minute). If your level of care is 1 or 2, there should be no problem with running. In the app you’ll find exercise plans for strengthening your pelvic area and avoid problems.
- If your level of care is 3 or above, we recommend that you go to a specialist (pelvic floor Physical Therapists) to assess your health and whether or not running is appropriate for you. You can do Bwom’s exercises, since they are adapted to fit your needs.
Remember that whatever your level, it is necessary to strengthen your pelvic floor. If you are advised to stop running, don’t be discouraged! Think about all the other sport alternatives available to you that will help you stay in shape or that will give you the opportunity to make changes while you rehabilitate your pelvic floor. You can try spin class or yoga or Pilates, which will all help strengthen the pelvic area.
How can I train my pelvic floor?
To work on your pelvic floor you don’t need any equipment or devices, just your body and 10 minutes.
In our Bwom app, after taking the test, you’ll gain access to exercise plans customized for you, according to your needs. The plans consist of different types of exercises, the majority of which are Kegels and hypopressive exercises. If your goal is to strengthen your pelvic floor to avoid the negative effects of running, we recommend the plan “Pelvic floor in shape.”
- Kegel Exercises: are voluntary contractions of the muscles of the vagina and pelvic floor. At Bwom we’ll teach you how to do them.
- Hypopressive Abdominal Gymnastics, or hypopressive exercises, are exercises that are done in specific positions and in apnea. In addition to toning the pelvic floor through involuntary contractions, they strengthen the abdominal girdle. In other words, you’ll get both a flat AND toned belly in just one “woman friendly” move, unlike traditional ab exercises that damage the pelvic floor.
Integrate the exercises into your workout routine
To strengthen the pelvic floor you don’t need to set aside a lot of time in your schedule. In fact, if you’re a runner or you play sports, you can add them to the stretching exercises you do at the end of your workout. It will take just 10 minutes! Get help by downloading the Bwom app and after taking the pelvic floor test, you’ll receive your customized evaluation and you can start taking care of yourself with the customized exercises.
If you run to improve your physical and emotional health, regularly working your pelvic floor too is necessary for reaching that goal!