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Prolapse and Running: What Every Woman Needs to Know

If you have a prolapse, you might think that running is off the table. However, if you adjust your form, pay attention to your breathing and balance the usage of your core, you can take steps to get back to running without experiencing prolapse symptoms.

What happens when you run with a prolapse?

Running places increased demand on your breathing and your core muscles. It can also cause us to breathe in a fashion that places more stress on your pelvis and the muscles of the pelvis that hold organs up.

Common prolapse symptoms with running can include:

  • *Pressure in the vaginal canal or rectum
  • *Sensation of a bulge between the legs

Running can make prolapse worse, which is why it is good to speak with a pelvic floor physical therapist to help you identify your breathing patterns, core muscle patterns and the strategies that you use personally to move both during exercise and throughout the day. It’s important to run with good alignment, which a physical therapist can help you identify.

RELAX YOUR Belly and your Pelvic floor!

By relaxing the belly, it helps to create better balance in your core. Your pelvic floor is a part of that muscle group. The Pelvic floor needs to go through excursion when we run. If you keep your abs engaged, the entire time you run, you can’t manage the core system very well.

Think about it this way – you wouldn’t want to hold your glutes tight the whole time that you are running. It would inhibit your ability to run. Engaging your abs or pelvic floor constantly inhibits the muscles’ ability to function effectively. We need to relax the muscles at times to use the muscles in a positive way.

Most women feel like they need to keep their pelvic floor and/or abdominal muscles engaged because they are afraid they’ll leak or that relaxing these muscles will cause the prolapse to fall more. However, even if you are gripping, you can still leak.

Ultimately, pelvic health is linked to the diaphragm and the abdominal wall. So to improve the function of your pelvic floor you have to start by relaxing your belly and pay attention to how your diaphragm is working.

Work on your Ability to Breathe

What are your core muscles? Julie Weibe, PT, gives a great explanation: Your core muscles include the diaphragm, pelvic floor, your deep abs and small back muscles.  Think of them like a building with walls, a roof and a foundation.

The foundation is your pelvic floor, the walls are your abs and small back muscles and the roof is your diaphragm. All equally important. You wouldn’t want to strengthen the heck out of the foundation but have a roof that was leaking or structurally unsound. We also want all parts of the core working well so other parts of the system are not overly exposed or stressed.

If you run gripping the pelvic floor and or the belly, this causes shallow breathing which causes you to hold your breath.  This puts a lot of pressure on the diaphragm and makes you feel like you have to gasp for air. When the belly is pulling tight, the pressure will either go up or down putting more pressure on either the diaphragm or the pelvic floor.

In each of these cases, muscles are overly tensed or rigid but not strong.  It’s like walking around with your bicep muscle held tight all day long.  It can’t work well if it’s constantly gripping and you certainly wouldn’t consider it strong.

So think about utilizing the pressure better to balance all parts of your core and in turn take pressure off your pelvic floor.

Pay Attention to Your Running Form

With running, another important thing is rotation through the lower body with a nice athletic stance.  This prevents you from gripping your abs, because you need to be doing something different on both sides of the body.

Stiffness does not equal strength. Ultimately, you want stability, which is fluid and balances the forces.

There’s a difference between bearing down/holding your breath and the pelvic floor moving dynamically with your breathing. To find the fluidity:

  • *Move your ribs over your pelvis to find the proper alignment.
  • *Inhale and let your pelvic floor relax. Pressure is part of your stability to create strength in the center.
  • *Exhale and lift your pelvic floor.

For more on running form, watch the video below:

Build Up to Running:

  • 1. Focus on finding stability while standing
  • 2. Next, walk on level ground and put your body in a well-aligned position to learn to use the system with less strain.
  • 3. When you can walk without symptoms, hike up a steep hill, making sure to put your body in a position to do well.
  • 4. As you progress, pick up your pace to make it more intense without increasing the impact.
  • 5. After you can be successful with walking you can do intervals, rotating between:
    • *Walking
    • *Walking up a steep hill
    • *Light jogging
    • *Running
    • *Do about 3-5 intervals, being attentive to changes that you make with your breathing, etc.

Take Your Time

Don’t rush – give yourself time to build stability through your pelvic floor. This means, if you’re experiencing symptoms while you’re standing, apply these exercises in a standing position and then slowly build toward walking, jogging and running.

If you have a prolapse and you want to start running, working with an integrated pelvic floor physical therapist might help. For a complimentary phone consultation, click here.

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