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Pelvic Floor Running Guide: Everything I Wish Runners Knew About the Pelvic Floor

pelvic floor running skills Apr 09, 2024

Here is everything I Wish I Knew About the Pelvic Floor & Running but first a little background story.

This past Sunday my husband and I ran a St. Patty’s Day 5k and to be honest, I was feeling down on myself for a little while after. Despite all the training I’ve been putting in, it was my slowest 5k in years.  It’s hard to feel like you are doing all the “right” things with your training and not perform the way you want.


Even though I know that my performance, or lack thereof, is heavily influenced by the fact that my body is operating on almost no testosterone (again), it’s still a hard pill to swallow (if you missed this story from a couple of weeks ago, you can read it here).


Then looking back at the post-race picture (on the right below) of me and my husband (who came in 3rd 🎉) reminded me of the picture on the left because we were also all in green.

If you’ve been to my “About” page on my website, you might recognize that first picture and this story because it is the genesis story of my business. My husband and I were running a race competing on a team for his work. We had a goal of being the fastest male and female on his company team (spoiler alert, he hit his goal, I did not).



It was all going great until the downhills.


I could not run downhill without completely peeing myself. 

And it wasn’t just a little drop, I’m talking soaked pants (good thing they were black - I’d made that mistake before). So, there I was running the flats and the uphills (passing people left and right) and walking downhills only to get passed by all of them and then some. 


It was so F-ing frustrating.

To say that sent me down a rabbit hole of continuing education and completely changed the way I coach all women, not just moms, would be an understatement! The whole time, I kept saying “I wish more runners knew about this.”

Yesterday’s race was a hilly one and I RAN those hills, especially the downhills. Maybe not as fast as I wanted, but as hard as I could. 



I didn’t even think about my pelvic floor. I don’t have to anymore because my training outside of running supports my pelvic floor health. (Yes, I wore black shorts yesterday still, but only because all my fun-colored shirts clashed with my St. Patrick’s Day green 🍀)



My Pelvic Floor Running Guide, What You Need to Know

(including lots of links to supporting blogs)


1- Pelvic floor symptoms with running could mean your pelvic floor is “weak”. However, more often than not it’s because of one or all of the following:


Your pelvic floor is tight because you are holding too much tension overall (stop sucking in your stomach and relax your jaw to start). More on this below.


Extra pressure is pushing down on your pelvic floor because you're not “stacked” above and/or your ribs don’t move well. Yes, your ribs are supposed to move.


You are struggling to handle the load somewhere else in the chain. Rotation, especially pronation at the feet and internal rotation at the hip are a huge part of it (or it could be your feet 😳). 


2- The pelvic floor doesn't work in isolation.


Your feet, ribs, and hips are all connected and your pelvic floor is literally at the core of it all. This blog post breaks down the biomechanics of that connection through rotation.


3- The pelvic floor contraction with running actually happens through LENGTH


I pulled this 3.5-minute excerpt from a lesson in my Woman’s Running Academy that will help you to better understand this idea.


This blog post (glute workout at home for stability & power) breaks down some exercises for finding that length to be able to load into midstance.

Or you can sign up for my FREE Glute Accelerator Crash Course where we progress daily through my favorite yet simple glute exercises that will have you really feeling your glutes work by finding that length. You'll go from heavy and clunky to strong, fluid and powerful in your stride.



4- Holding tension whether on purpose or unconsciously only makes it worse.


Sometimes we hold that tension out of fear of peeing our pants whether consciously or subconsciously. It’s important to understand that the absolute worst thing you can do is try to hold a pelvic floor contraction while you run. It has to be able to relax to contract. It has to be able to lengthen! 


Holding tension elsewhere also connected back to your pelvic floor (see point number one). Are you clenching your glutes? Clenching your jaw? Gripping with your toes?

5- Restricting fluids only makes it worse!


Don’t fall into the trap of “I just won’t drink water so I won’t have to pee so much.” It doesn’t work. It actually does the opposite. Dehydrated urine is irritating to the bladder and it wants to get rid of it more! Keep in mind though that good hydration happens in the 24-48 hours before the run. Trying to drink a bunch right before will just send it straight through.

So what, now what? How do you use this information?

1- Learn to breathe and relax.

2- Learn how your pelvic floor is connected and integrated with your movement.

3- Find your stack and get your ribs moving.

4- Practice that movement integration with intentional strength training (rotation, rotation, rotation!).

5- Get stronger overall to help your body handle the impact of running.

6- Go see a pelvic floor physical therapist to help you understand, feel, and connect with your parts.


And click here for my top 5 Exercises for Pelvic Health in Runners.

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