Running and your Pelvic Floor

Start super slow, and not before two months after having a baby UNLESS you have been super consistent with activating your TA and PF. If you are a hard core runner you have a little more grace in that you can start running 6 weeks post a vaginal delivery (given your doctor agrees).

Once postnatal…you are always postnatal.  So this applies to every mama!

Starting running too soon can wreak havoc on your pelvic floor, PF. Its primary job is to keep that baby in and then afterwards to keep your insides… well… in. Think of it as a hammock that holds your bladder and reproductive organs in and attaches to the front and back of your pelvis. These muscles work all day long. 24/7. They work in conjunction with the TA to stabilize the core. Any insufficiencies in these muscles can cause pain, incontinence and altered movement. A study by Poświata in 2014, found that 45.54% of the 112 elite female endurance athletes (runners and cross-country skiers) polled, suffered from incontinence. It is so common ladies! You are not alone!

You never want to subtract to add i.e. don’t put your pelvic floor at risk to start adding miles. If you have good core strength and stabilization you can progress through the following recommendation more rapidly, otherwise spend 2-3 weeks at each stage. Make sure you properly warm up (walking) and cool (walking and stretching).

Timed I: aim for 20 minutes of run 1 minute/walk 1 minute, repeat

Timed II: aim for 20 minutes of run 2 minutes/walk 1 minute, repeat

Timed III: aim for 20 minutes of run 3 minutes/walk 1 minute, repeat

Mileage I: aim for 2-3 miles of run 3 minutes/walk 1 minute, repeat

Mileage II: aim for running 1 mile, walk 2-3 minutes, aim for running 1-2 more miles

Mileage III: aim for running 2 miles, walk 2-3 minutes, aim for running 1-2 more miles

Download our Ab Rehab Guide!

Incorporate daily PF exercises. Read at the end of this section for your pelvic floor exercises.  As always, it’s important to incorporate strength and flexibility into any running routine. If you are 5-6+ months postpartum, I recommend our Running Supplemental Workouts.  Because running happens in one plane of motion, so it’s a must that you strengthen your core and all the muscles that move in the lateral direction i.e. gluteus medius. This will keep your body healthy!

Your core/trunk is a transfer station for everything that goes on in the body. Running dramatically increases the amount of force through the core, pelvic floor and legs. If you have DR, your structural integrity is already compromised. When running with DR, you are likely compensating, which can lead to other structural issues including, knee pain, IT band pain, plantar fasciitis, low back pain and hip flexor issues, just to name a few. Not to mention increased strain through your pelvic floor. We need to address your compensations to insure you can run with proper alignment, so you can successfully return to one of your loves. It can be very difficult to know how you are compensating. Getting the help of a physical therapist or a personal trainer who is educated in working with post-partum mommas will be so helpful, if not essential to your success.

Pelvic Floor Exercises:

  • Hold Em’s
    • Squeeze and lift the pelvic floor muscles by thinking of pulling on both ends of that hammock I talked about. You can also think about using the muscles that you use to stop the flow of urine or hold in gas.
    • Hold for 5-10 seconds (you should be able to talk while you do these so you don’t hold your breath). And relax for 10 seconds. It is just as important to learn how to relax these muscles as it is to turn them on, so don’t skip that step!
    • Do 10 contractions. Try to get in about 4-5 sessions of these puppies a day.
  • Quick Squeezes
    • Now contract those same muscles quickly 5 times. Don’t hold. We’re training motor control here… fancy term for retraining that brain to turn them on/off quickly. Relax for 10 seconds after your 5th quick contract.
    • Repeat 10 times.


If you do not know whether or not you have diastasis recti please check out: https://www.momsintofitness.com/what-is-diastasis-recti/.

Duvall, S. (Accessed October 26,2017). Can I Run with a Diastasis? Retrieved from http://www.coreexercisesolutions.com/can-i-run-with-a-diastasis/

Lee, D. (Accessed October 26, 2017). Diastasis rectus abdominis & postpartum health consideration for exercise training. Retrieved from http://dianelee.ca/articles/Diastasis-rectus-abd.pdf

Nixon, J., Goom, T. (Accessed October 26, 2017). Running, incontinence and pelvic floor exercises. http://www.running-physio.com/pelvic-floor/

Poswiata, A., Socha, T., Opara, J.(2014). Prevalence of Stress Urinary Incontinence in Elite Female Endurance Athletes. Journal of Human Kinetics, 44, 91-96.

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