Nov 7, 2018

Mums protect your pelvic floor

When we run, our feet make contact with the ground and the impact is partly absorbed by the pelvic floor.  Over time, this can stretch and weaken the pelvic floor muscles and the ligaments that support the pelvic organs.  These connective tissues are already vulnerable after 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:

pelvic floor advice St Judes Clinic

Read more below;

·      In an ideal world, all mums would have access to a specialist Women's Health Physiotherapist to assess their pelvic floor. If this is not possible on the NHS, consider booking a One Stop Mum Check at St Judes Clinic to assess your pelvic floor before starting/restarting running.

·      Running causes your pelvic organs to move about inside you, so 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 – so get yourself some suitable footwear.

·      Try to avoid downhill runs and stick to flat terrain as downhill running increases the impact of your body weight on the pelvic floor.

·      Reduce distances. When you run 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 muscles while running.  You may want to limit running 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 following your delivery (nearly half of us do, some do not have any symptoms from this) or abdominal separation, a pair of EVB shorts or capri pants from somewhere like will nicely reduce movement and provide some support for your tummy and pelvic floor. These running shorts are a medical garment rather than 'sportswear', designed by engineers, with reinforced stitching to help keep everything nicely in place. 

·      Invest some time and energy in strength and conditioning exercises alongside running to work your 'outside' muscles.  Your bottom (gluteal) muscles and your calves (yes really!) too, play a huge role in absorbing running impact - if they are strong and working well, it will lessen the strain on your pelvic floor.  Runners often just want to run, which puts them at risk of developing aches and pains.  Strong gluteal and defined calf muscles can help avoid this more than you think!

To book a One Stop Mum Check, give us a call on 01525 377751, or for further information go to:

Tips supplied by Jo Dyson, Women's Health Physiotherapist at St Judes Clinic 2018.