12 Apr ABC of Pelvic Health for Runners
I’m writing this homeward bound on the plane from Vienna. My first half marathon of 2016 was a blast. What a great city – full of romance, opera and now running. Bring on the other half marathons is what I say. I’m so geared up now.
I got talking to women of all nationalities – English, Austrian, Spanish, French – and the common bond that we share as women runners overlooks all borders.
Running is simply fantastic.
Every woman who wants to run ought to be able – regardless of ability or minor challenges. And having a weak pelvic floor should not hold women back.
This brings me to Michelle Lyons MISCP, RPT, CNT, the international physiotherapist. I’ve known Michelle Lyons for a while now and she has simply dedicated her life to women’s health.
She wrote an article for the Mini-Marathon which I think applies for any distance. Using her knowledge and advice and my own experience, here are some tips for strong pelvic health.
I call it the ABCs of Pelvic Health.
A: Acknowledge your Pelvic Floor
When I talk to ladies, I often have to explain what and where the pelvic floor. We all have one – men and women. We just don’t talk about it yet it’s so important.
Your pelvic floor muscles run like a sling from the front of your pelvis to your tailbone and they have a number of jobs, like giving you control over your bladder and bowel and keeping your pelvic organs where they are supposed to be. But they are also really important when it comes to preventing low back pain, as they provide stability for the joints of your lower back and pelvis.
I call them your hidden muscles. You can’t see them but they are very much there for you…and you notice it more when they are weak.
B: Breathe in to Find Your Pelvic Floor
Lots of women have said to me that they can’t find their pelvic floor. So Michelle’s advice is to take a deep breath in, and as you exhale, relax all the muscles in and around your pelvis.
Take another breath in, and this time as you exhale, close your anus and lift up and in, (as if you were trying to stop gas escaping) Count to 5 out loud (to make sure you’re not holding your breath. Then (this is the most important part!) fully relax your pelvic floor.
C: Choose Supportive Clothing
As I said earlier, your pelvic floor keeps everything in place like a sling. It is not just related to bladder and bowel movements. Having a weak pelvic floor can niggle and create lower back pain.
Michelle’s advice is to keep your ribcage over your pelvis when you run as this can help manage the pressures of running on your pelvic floor. Wearing supportive clothing like a good sports bra and EVB shorts can really help improve both form and function when you run in Michelle’s experience. If you are worried about leaking or painful breasts when you are running, that can actually make the problem worse by causing extra tension in the body and can lead to other mechanical problems or injuries.
So go on ladies, find your pelvic floor, know that it exists and make it stronger. This will really set you up for running success.
Head over to the store now and find a pair of support shorts, capris or leggings that it is just right for you.
See you back in Dublin, Yvonne