This is a predicament that’s relatively common in women suffering from a weak pelvic floor. These clients come to me because they’ve gotten themselves started into their post baby fitness regimes, found the energy and time to make it out for a run and suddenly they are realising that things aren’t quite as they once were down there and are now stuck between the want to have it all
I guess it’s worth stating from the get go that whilst running is a fantastic form of cardio it’s not necessarily the best form of post-natal fitness new mums could be doing. During pregnancy and up to 12 months post birth or 12 months post breastfeeding your body is producing extra hormones that make your joints more supple – fantastic for helping you give birth. Not so fantastic when you are putting weight through your joints in running. Equally your pelvic floor and core have been under pressure during pregnancy and aren’t always up to the same job they used to perform for you.
Just last week I had the opening question asked to me by a lovely client of mine who had built herself up to the time and energy levels to go for her first run back after her little boy was born and suddenly things didn’t feel the same down below. In fact once she came home from her run she was eternally grateful she’d gone out in black running tights rather than grey.
She asked “Should I just carry on?”
Modern marketing tells us that having a weak pelvic floor is something that is part and parcel of becoming a mother. Shops keep women’s sanitary products next to the baby aisle – next time take a look.
The trouble is we want everything and we wanted it yesterday – so yes we want a strong and well-functioning pelvic floor and also yes we want to lose weight and feel comfortable in your own skin again.
My advice to her?
The body performing well during exercise is like building a jigsaw and you can’t complete the whole picture if a piece is missing. You always start on your weakest point and your pelvic floor didn’t all of a sudden become weak for no reason. Your body has adapted to changes in pregnancy and now it’s time to adapt it again to accommodate.
Everything from your breathing to your posture affects your pelvic floor. So we start off correcting negatively affecting breathing patterns and misalignment. Then we consider that if you are doing a bicep curl you are working more of your body than just the bicep – your forearm, fingers, shoulders, back, core are all working also. The pelvic floor is no different to the bicep muscle in that it simply cannot work alone. Everything that attaches into the pelvic floor is also being worked and therefore assist in strengthening it. The deepest layer of abdominal muscle – the Transverse Abdominis in particular is one that can really improve your pelvic floor function when strengthened together
Once a client has gotten the breathing for pelvic floor and TVA exercise well set up then can start throwing in whole body movements – this will get the heart rate up, strengthen the full body and burn the calories in a safe way. Got those movements down – then it’s time you can move into doing these movements in a circuit style approach (see the 4 minute HIIT for pelvic floor and diastasis recti safe workout available on the app).
Here you are getting everything you’d get from running in a safe and effective way – just thinking about using the body smarter not pushing it harder to get the same results.