The running is one of the sports most fashionable today: it is relatively inexpensive (if we do not go too crazy with the material), it can be practiced anywhere and almost everyone can do, if adequate progress is followed. The number of runners, both men and women, grows day by day.
Running gives us a good number of benefits for our organism: from improving heart rate to lowering blood pressure, as well as psychological benefits for the runner.
However, if we focus on women, there is a part of the body that can be adversely affected by running, and this is the pelvic floor. This is how running affects us so we can protect our muscles from the pelvic floor.
The pelvic floor musculature integrates a few muscles located in the lower part of the pelvis whose function is to support the organs found in that area such as the urethra, uterus and intestines. If we think of the musculature of the trunk as if it were a wicker basket (because this is a flexible material is a good comparison), the pelvic floor would be the bottom of this basket.
Having well-toned pelvic floor muscles prevents us from suffering from common problems such as urinary incontinence or genital prolapse (also known as “pelvic floor prolapse”), which causes organs in the pelvic area to descend due to lack of support muscular.
How does running affect our pelvic floor?
We know that running is a high impact activity in which at every step a large amount of energy is generated and absorbed. During the landing phase, one of the four phases of running footfall, when our foot comes into contact with the ground, we generate an impact that is returned to us and that can be absorbed, in part, by our shoes, if we have a good cushioning.
Part of this impact, however, passes to our joints, especially to the knees, and from there rises to our trunk, thus affecting our back and, what interests us in this case, our pelvic floor.
During an hour of running, always depending on the number of steps we take per minute, we can receive between 6000 and 10000 hits on our pelvic floor (about 10800 if we assume that we are running at about 180 steps per minute). Each of these impacts increases the pressure in our pelvic area, and the pelvic floor musculature is responsible for dampening it . This excess pressure and exposure to it over a long period of time is what causes the pelvic floor musculature to weaken.
Do I have to stop running? How do I strengthen my pelvic floor?
Only in cases where the pelvic floor has suffered great damage is advised to stop running, at least for a season. Whatever your level as a runner, it will always be beneficial to combine running training with pelvic floor training that can be done in different ways.
On previous occasions we have already talked about Kegel exercises : these are specific exercises for the pelvic floor musculature that help us to tone and strengthen it so that it can maintain its function. No accessories are needed to perform them, although lately are emerging gadgets like Elvie that can connect to our mobile phone through a bluetooth connection and we facilitate the completion of exercises, gamification training.
The Pilates method is also a good ally when it comes to working our pelvic floor. Through Pilates exercises we not only become aware of our body, where they are and how each of our muscles work, but also improve our posture , both static and moving, which can also help us to limit the stroke impact and protect our pelvic floor.
The Hipopresiva gymnastics is one of the possibilities to improve our pelvic floor muscles and is a great help as preventing a pelvic floor to keep in top form. In this article you can discover a little more about the benefits of hipopressive gymnastics.
The ideal is not to close the door to other types of training and encourage us to combine different activities that complement each other. In this way we can prevent the appearance of certain pathologies, such as pelvic floor dysfunctions, and improve our performance as runners.