Your running technique is to a large extent dictated by how well you move the rest of the time and what you do with your body when you’re not running. If you’re sitting for hours at a desk then your ability to extend the hip, move your leg behind you and create a powerful running style is going to be somewhat compromised unless you’re doing a lot of mobility work to counteract the sitting.
Leaking urine when you run is common not just for us amateur runners, but also female athletes. Impact is a huge trigger for wetting yourself – think trampolines, gymnastics and any kind of jumping really, including running.
If you are leaking or you experience heaviness or bulging in the vagina during or after running then these can be a sign that your pelvic floor isn’t tolerating the impact of your running particularly well.
What follows are some tips and tricks to reduce the amount of impact your body experiences so that your pelvic floor muscles can cope better. Leaking is a sign that you’re – what the professionals call ‘exceeding your tissue tolerance’. The same could be said of a calf muscle or hamstring muscle tear. Whatever it was that caused the injury exceeded the ability of that muscle to deal with the load. The same goes for the PF muscles. If you tore your hamstring, you wouldn’t go out and run through it, you’d rest it and let it heal and then reintroduce running or whatever sport slowly.
So we need to make sure that we stay below the threshold of the PF muscles so that we can then build and strengthen without continuously weakening by exceeding the threshold.
So how do we reduce impact?
The longer your foot stays on the ground = greater impact. The harder your foot strikes the ground = more impact. The further out in front of you your foot lands = more impact. All of these can potentially create a downward force that your pelvic floor can’t deal with and/or cause leakage.
Channel your Inner Fairy
Unplug your headphones, stop looking at your Fitbit and LISTEN to your footstrike. If you can hear your feet slapping or thudding into the ground then you’re landing heavily and creating more impact than necessary. Try to soften your landing.
Increase your Cadence
Your cadence is how many times in a minute your foot strikes the ground. Interestingly if you consciously try to land more softly you will automatically increase your cadence. There is some mythological figure of 180 steps per minute doing the rounds, but ignore this completely (there’ll be another post if there isn’t already on cadence for you to consider in more depth). Just go by feel. Land softly and you’ll automatically increase your step rate and therefore spend less time on the ground.
For both the inner fairy and cadence you could also think about stepping on a hot surface – every time your foot lands, imagine it’s landing on a red hot surface and you pick your foot up as quickly as possible.
Land Closer to your Centre of Gravity
This is the same as not overstriding. The further out your foot lands in front of you the greater the impact and also the more braking force. If you land softly and increase your cadence then you will probably find you land more underneath your body. With this one, having someone video you is really useful, particularly from the side if possible. You want to land with a relatively vertical shin and a soft knee.
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