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Running and your Pelvic Floor

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).

Start super slow, and not before two months postpartum 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).

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 Pelvic Floor Exercises

Incorporate daily Pelvic Floor (PF) 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!

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 have an abdominial separation – diastasis recti – we have a handful of guidelines you need to follow.  Check out Running with Diastasis Recti.  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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