Running and the pelvic floor, 4 tips to increase running preformanceMay 10, 2023
The Pelvic Floor When We Run
The pelvic floor is an integral part of every step we take while running, and not just for holding in pee! It plays a major role in your core stabilization and hip rotation too.
It goes through a cycle of relaxation and contraction with every step reaching the max contraction, likely with max pronation and internal rotation at mid-stance. That contraction starts to happen even before the foot hits the ground which means rotation is playing a big role. Remember we are already rotating back onto that other side before that foot even strikes the ground.
Does this mean I want you to be thinking about relaxing and contracting your pelvic floor with each step?
Heck no! First of all, can you think that fast 🤷♀️
It's important to note that natural pelvic floor activity is elevated above the standing baseline level throughout the whole duration of running. Just like any other muscle, it can get tired. Purposefully keeping it engaged will tire it out faster!
One study showed that women who experience stress urinary incontinence actually have a higher pelvic floor activity when running. The researchers were unsure of whether there was a biomechanical cause or a subconscious protection mechanism - if the latter is true, thinking about it is definitely not helping.
When it comes to running you need to let the pelvic floor just do its job and you sure as hell don't want to be trying to hold a contraction the whole time!
So what can you do:
1- Learn to breathe and relax.
Breathing during any exercise plays a large part in how your muscles will perform. When running we want to have controlled relaxed breaths. Which allows more oxygen to enter the blood and feed our muscles.
2- Learn how your pelvic floor is connected and integrated with your movement
Check out this 60 second breakdown.
At mid-stance with more internal rotation, we are lengthening and adding tension making it easier to contract and use the pelvic floor muscles. Then with the external rotation we are shortening those muscles allowing them to relax and descend reciprocally with every stride of our running.
3- Practice that movement integration with intentional strength training (rotation, rotation, rotation!).
That internal rotation/loading we are going for first helps facilitate a natural tensioning of the front of the pelvic floor as you load through mid-stance in your stride.
Look at the video above and see how we can increase our range of motion and make space for our hips with 3 easy exercises.
4- Get stronger overall to help your body handle the impact of running.
Strength training with the demands of running in mind will allow you to engage your surrounding muscles to protect your core and pelvic floor causing less stress on your body as you run.
All of these pieces, including rotation, are a HUGE part of all of my self-paced courses.
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