It’s that time of year where many of us are about ready to commit to a new exercise routine or get back on the training wagon if we are runners. And for many women, getting back to running brings back those familiar old bladder issues that cause us to grab the black running pants, throw in a pad, and maybe start up a kegel routine again.
Unfortunately, bladder leaks are VERY COMMON in the female running population and as many times as I have heard people say that they are sure their pelvic floor is “just weak”, it is usually NOT the issue. Very often, the imbalance is something else and doing more kegels can often result in MORE leakage.
So are you ready to ditch the kegels and try something different?
We will talk about TWO major things that ALL of us can work on that can bring back balance to our core and pelvic floor.
1). Start working on that Belly Breathing.
Seriously. TIme and time again, my patients find that taking a slow relaxing belly breath is actually quite difficult. We are encouraged as women to constantly suck in our bellies and this habit can wreak havoc on our pelvic floor. Our true strength comes from the ability to GROUND our core muscles by lengthening them and rooting down towards the ground BEFORE they engage. Without this, we have very little potential strength.
Start by setting a timer for 3-5 minutes while laying on your back, side (top shoulder tipped back slightly), or reclining in a chair with head supported. Place a hand on your belly and focus on 4 counts to inhale, pause, then 4 counts to exhale. Breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth with softly pursed lips.
2). Work on that one leg Hip Stability.
The act of running is to be alternating between landing on one leg to the other. This requires the Glutes to be strong enough to keep the pelvis and entire body stable. This will trickle down to the entire leg and up into the mid back with either feeling sore from running or not. And the pelvic floor DEFINITELY needs the pelvic to be stable while running or there will be problems.
When the hips are not strong enough, the pelvis will not be stable and the pelvic floor will not be able to work with the deep core and manage intra abdominal pressure effectively. And very often, pelvic floor muscles will become excessively tense as an adaptation for weak hip muscles.
Look for standing exercises where you are weight bearing either only on one leg or asymmetrically. I love standing on one leg and then trying to stay balanced while reaching forward with one arm and reaching back with the non standing leg. But you HAVE to feel your glutes working in any of these exercises. If you find that you cannot feel your glutes in squat or one leg standing exercises, we DEFINITELY recommend you work with a pelvic floor PT to help you regain use of your glutes. This is a VERY common issue with our female running patients.
So instead of starting a kegel program, work on your breathing and your hip stability. It is also helpful to work with a pelvic PT to truly determine the source of your body’s imbalances instead of wasting years more with a leaking bladder.
Pelvic PTs can also be experts in runners and running form to help you feel your best and stay injury free. Check out our free guide to run leak free for more information!