If you're one of the many women who suffer leakage when you run help is at hand. It is surprisingly common, but it isn't normal and often simply doing your pelvic floor exercises isn't enough to solve the issue.
If you leak when you run, it might be a sign that the muscles of your pelvic floor which run from your sitbones and tailbone to your pubic bone, aren't as strong as they could be. If you find yourself leaking when you sneeze, jump, cough etc, these are all signs that your pelvic floor needs a bit of help.
Leaking when you run is not only embarrassing and uncomfortable, for some women, like one of my recent clients, it had put her off running completely. If you're a runner, then you'll know that having to stop is like having a limb removed.
This post introduces three tips to help you relieve some of the pressure on your pelvic floor to allow it to strengthen and heal so you can run for longer with drier knickers!
Here we go...
1. Sort your Bum Out
If you turn sideways on and look in the mirror, what do you see? Are you J-Lo with a nice big booty, or does your lower back connect straight to your upper thighs? If it's the latter then you're probably suffering from 'flat arse syndrome'. Your glutes (butt muscles) and your pelvic floor are supposed to work together. If your butt is non-existent then chances are you pelvic floor isn't as great as it could be.
Take a moment to consider whether you're a 'Tucker'. You might tuck your butt under because some well-meaning individual told you it was a good thing, you might tuck to hid your junk, or you might tuck because your hamstrings are pulling you there because you sit a million hours a day. The mantra here is, "If in doubt, stick your arse out!". If you're confused about neutral, tucked, flat back, too archy low back, message me and I'll explain :)
OR are you a 'Gripper', someone squeezing their arse cheeks together? Sometimes the 'Tucker' and the 'Gripper' are the same person, but sometimes they're not. Constantly squeezing your butt muscles, not only hampers the glutes ability to work and move, but it means that you're always pulling your tailbone under which weakens the pelvic floor muscles because of where they attach.
Relax, stick it out with pride, and then work on strengthening it!
2. Breathe Better.
Yes, I know, this is a very vague tip title. Apologies. Unfortunately there is no one good way to breathe, much like there's no one best way to move etc. The trick with all of this stuff is looking at your habits, figuring out if they're working for you and if they're not then doing something different.
Consider this - when you breathe in, your diaphragm which separates your belly from your chest lowers into your belly and therefore puts some downward pressure on your belly organs. Underneath your belly organs is your pelvic floor and that should absorb the weight of the organs, and then spring back up so that as you breathe out your pelvic floor lifts. They work together. If your pelvic floor is weak and not able to cope with the downward pressure then breathing into the belly aka Yoga style is potentially going to put too much pressure on the pelvic floor. It's fine if you're lying down and relaxing, but it's not a brilliant strategy if you're doing something more strenuous. If you're not a belly breather, then potentially you're a upper chest, shoulder and neck breather. Look in the mirror and see if you see your shoulders/chest move as you breathe in. This kind of breathing is the type of breathing you might see someone who is stressed doing. So if you're not breathing into your belly or your upper chest, where do you breathe?
Your ribs. Breathing into your ribs at either side of your body and letting them expand outwards can increase the strength of your breathing muscles (the ones between your ribs), it can increase your lung capacity and breathing efficiency. Great for runners!
One final point, if you're a 'Sucker' (someone who holds their belly sucked in all the time - either to make yourself look thinner or because you think it helps your core), then you're killing your pelvic floor, man. Let that shit go! Not literally, that's a different blog post, one involving a Squatty Potty. Anyway, I digress. Relax your abs and breathe into your ribs.
3. RELAX your Pelvic Floor
We all know about the Kegel, we've all been told to strengthen and squeeze our way to a healthy pelvic floor, but that's the equivalent of telling someone to do a bicep curl and hold their arm bent fully at the elbow for hours a day, it's not how it's supposed to happen. Just like any other muscle, there's a contract phase and then there's a relax phase as it moves. The pelvic floor is a supporting muscle, as opposed to your bicep or your glutes which are muscles that are meant to move us. Supporting muscles are supposed to provide us with low level support throughout the day and increase their support as demand entails. They are NOT meant to be gripped and held constantly. What you're after is a resilient, bouncy, springy set of pelvic floor muscles, not a set of stringy, burnt out, beef jerky style muscles.
Relaxation is therefore just as important as strengthening. Even if you're of the weak rather than tight pelvic floor variety, the relaxation and release of the pelvic floor is vital to a healthy set of muscles that can support you not just when you run but through every aspect of life.
Any questions, want to pick my brain? Book a FREE Discovery Coaching call with me here. This is an opportunity to ask questions, get some clarity and start your journey to stronger, drier, injury free running. No obligation, no sales, just a video chinwag via Zoom wherever you are in the world.
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