Pelvic floor and the female athlete

Picture credit: Girls Run The World

Most runners are aware that pregnancy and childbirth affect pelvic floor health. But few realise that factors unrelated to child bearing can also impact your pelvic floor and therefore, your stability as a runner.

Rachael Woolston from Girls Run The World is here to tell us more.

No one likes to leak when they run, sneeze or cough. And yet, up to one third of women experience some kind of problem with their pelvic floor muscles at some point in their lives.

The pelvic floor muscles lie across the base of the pelvis and help support the pelvic organs. Straining, lifting, and carrying increases abdominal pressure, and your pelvic floor muscles should brace to support this additional pressure.

But misinformation, combined with a desire to get back into shape often result in returning to running too soon.

And it’s not just pregnancy or childbirth that can weaken the pelvic floor muscles – it can happen for both men and women…

Common Causes

  • Chronic constipation: having to strain regularly to empty your bowels causes dysfunction.
  • High Impact or heavy lifting exercises.
  • Overly tight pelvic floor muscles, and an inability to relax them using breathwork.
  • Menopause – changes to your vagina and pelvic floor due to hormone fluctuations.
  • Obesity or being overweight.

Your Pelvic Floor POWER!

The flip side of course, is that a well-conditioned pelvic floor muscle is the core to your power and stability, and the foundations to your running or triathlon performance.

And the pelvic floor is a MUSCLE so it can be conditioned to function correctly.

A largely slow twitch muscle which is good for endurance, it should also have some fast twitch muscles which can engage and support quickly when exerting power, whether that’s pushing through a pedal on an uphill bike section, running fast or lifting heavy.

(Find out more with GRTW Postnatal Performance programme).

Access all Girls Run the World on demand programmes and training plans as a premium member, from as little as £16 per month using the code GRTWBM when you sign up for free trial here. Open to first time members only.


Article brought to you by the Official Training Partner for Brighton Marathon Weekend, Girls Run The World

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