Gender medicine: to ensure no leaks while running

Petra Wagner 22. September 2020

Many women suffer from urinary incontinence, prolapse complaints, and so on while jogging. I'll show you how running gradually becomes fitness training for your pelvic floor.

This article is brought to you by «Medical Running»

Jogging is particularly popular among women. The short time required, the flexibility and compatibility with work and family make this sport particularly attractive for us women. We can simply head out the front door and get going.

Rule of thumb and well-being

After pregnancy and childbirth, many women like to try jogging to get back into sports and fitness. However, precisely here lies great uncertainty as to when and whether jogging again is sensible and healthy. The rule of thumb: jogging at least 2-3 months after the birth and intensive training 4-6 months after the birth are OK. Or the feel-good rule: as soon as you can walk at a brisk pace for a longer period of time, feel fit, and the pelvic floor has regained its elasticity, you can try jogging again. This «waiting period» is necessary because the hormonal changes led to a loosening of the connective tissue, which first needs to regenerate. My tip: it’s better to start somewhat later than too soon in order to give the regeneration process time.

Find your own centre again

It is an undisputed fact that the pelvic floor is severely stressed and strained by what are probably the most intensive events in a woman's life – pregnancy and childbirth. As a result, these changes often lead to bladder weakness and the tendency towards prolapse. The unfavourable posture and movement patterns developed during pregnancy – pronounced hollow back due to the growing belly – will remain even after the birth. Lower back pain and a poor posture are pre-programmed. The heavy strain on the pelvic floor combined with postural misalignment is particularly disadvantageous.

Timing is everything

Recommendations to permanently tense the pelvic floor while running are definitely outdated! Tensing and relaxing to the rhythm of movement is required. This involves rhythmically activating the three-layer pelvic floor muscles – including massaging the pelvic organs! The pelvic floor also transmits important impulses to erect the pelvis and thus ensure the stability of the pelvis and spine during the floor loading phase – be it running or climbing the stairs. Walking and running - when correctly executed - naturally improve the speed of control and elasticity of the pelvic floor. At a walking pace, the pelvic floor acts like a conductor; orchestrating the abdominal, hip, and back muscles.

Too little basic tension leads to a loss of strength and speed, too much to constipation and haemorrhoids. This fine interaction during walking and running has a significant influence on continence. Tensing and releasing at the right moment – that's what matters. Timing is everything!

Take home message

The pelvic floor is designed to work under pressure in everyday life. The decisive impulse in the pelvic floor needs to be trained, timed, and integrated into everyday life. With a bit of practice, you will succeed and lift the treasure in the pelvic floor. If that's not good news for us women, what is?! So, ladies, first go on a «treasure hunt», then put on your running shoes and get going!