SSHHhhh, don't tell anyone but...... “I always leak a bit when I run” “oh I definitely don't go on the trampoline” “I'm spending a fortune on pads” How many times have you heard or even said these phrases? This is the kind of stuff we talk about in hushed tones with friends, perhaps after a few wines. We follow this up with excuses of having had babies or weight gain or hormonal changes. 1 in 3 women will experience some bladder issues at some point in their lives. This will vary in severity from person to person but it just shows that it is not something to be ashamed of. However it is also something we shouldn't “just put up with.” Unfortunately, for you lovely people, running is one of the hardest things to do for your pelvic floor. As you strike the floor, that force passes through the pelvic floor, through the lower limbs and to the ground. This impact has the effect of stretching the pelvic floor and its connective tissues. If your pelvic floor is already deconditioned, this stretch and tension will, slowly, further weaken the area. So what to do? Take to the sofa and resign yourself to a life of no running or fresh air? Crown green bowls here I come? Fear not, there are some things you can do to make things easier on this very important area: - Run on mixed surfaces, softer surfaces have less impact and therefore less stretch. - Reduce your stride length, having your hip more over your foot on foot strike will reduce the impact. - Reduce speed, especially down hill. - Check your footwear has reasonable cushioning. - Improve your core stability. Finally, and most importantly, learn how to engage and exercise your pelvic floor properly. This problem will not go away, don't wait until it becomes an issue that stops you running or running to the GP. You only get one pelvic floor, it needs TLC to keep it in good nick. I'm guessing you clean your teeth about twice a day? The reality is, if your teeth rotted you could replace these with pretty jazzy dentures or eyewateringly expensive implants. Unfortunately, no clever clogs has so far gone to the trouble of inventing a denture for the pelvic floor, so in the meantime the ball is in your court. As fit and healthy women you know the importance of strong muscles. The pelvic floor is no different, just a bit more tucked away.... There is a ton of information online about how to strengthen your pelvic floor, it is becoming more spoken and written about (yeah, at last she cries!). There is also a ton of evidence to show that if you see a specialist women's health physiotherapist this is by far the best way to make sure you have the technique nailed and know how best to use it. The official NICE guidelines are that any person with pelvic floor dysfunction should see a specialist physiotherapist as a first line of defence. So don't delay, do it today. Look it up, pull it up and don't just put up with it! Katie Syrett is a specialist women's health physio, runs core restore classes and loves to run and not pee!
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