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Unfortunately, leakage during running or workouts is more common than it needs to be. Whether you notice a little dampness or have pee running down your leg, leakage during running and workouts does not have to be your norm. Running is a high impact activity and puts a lot of stress on the pelvic floor. So, does that mean you have to give up running? Pelvic floor exercises for women can help!
Checking in with a pelvic health physical therapist is the best step if you experience leakage with exercise. However, in the meantime, here are some things to consider to help deal.
Research tells us that at least 30-40% of women actually do Kegels incorrectly (if they're doing them at all). Avoid squeezing your inner thighs or butt muscles. Instead, think of squeezing and lifting the pelvic floor as if you're trying to stop the flow of urine (but don't actually do that).
Breathing is the first thing I work on with clients and patients to help their pelvic floor. If you're holding your breath, that pressure has to go somewhere, and it's the pelvic floor. When you're not running, practice full, 360 breathing. The belly and ribcage should be expanding as you inhale. When running or working out, being able to carry on a conversation while you run with a friend ensures you're breathing.
It probably has something to do with our altered posture during pregnancy, but the gluts just seem to disappear postpartum. Working on firing your gluts and doing glut strengthening exercises help avoid muscle imbalances. If the gluts are weak, the pelvic floor might try to take up slack that it's not designed to.
Your pelvic floor should react reflexively while you run. By trying to contract it the whole time, you increase pressure on the pelvic floor, and this can actually lead to leakage.
Once you know that you're doing a Kegel correctly, try to make it a little more interesting. Instead of the standard "squeeze/ release," try these in addition:
10 standing, 10 second holds
20 quick Kegels
Try jumping with a Kegel: breathe in, and as you breathe out, Kegel and jump
I want to encourage every woman to do what she wants just as much as the next person. But, the reality is that it takes time for our bodies and our muscles and tissues to recover. No amount of exercise or preparation can speed up the timeline significantly. If you are leaking or feeling heaviness prior to returning to exercise, please seek care before returning. A pelvic floor therapist is optimally positioned to guide you through your return to exercise.
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