Get your pelvic floor and core assessed, and let us guide you safely through the process of strengthening your body to get you back to running.
Running is a high impact activity so you need to take care after childbirth. Your body has been dealing with 9 months of changes throughout your pregnancy, not to mention the process of delivering the baby! (whether it is a Caesarian or vaginal birth)
The pelvic floor muscles are the only muscles in the body that carry their load on top of them – they act a bit like a hammock for the bladder, uterus and bowel. During a vaginal delivery the pelvic floor muscles can stretch to 2.5 times their normal resting length, to allow the baby to be born. During a Caesarian Section there are 7 layers of muscle, tissue, fascia and organ that are cut through to get the baby out. This compromises the strength of the abdominals. It’s just as important after a Caesarian to review your pelvic floor and core strength before lacing up your shoes!
When you impact the ground as you run, your pelvic floor should contract to provide a deep supportive and lifting of your pelvic organs, to help prevent prolapse. If your pelvic floor is tired, stretched, weak or damaged from pregnancy and / or labour, you might need to learn how to work it again. A skilled physiotherapist trained in pelvic health can do an internal assessment of your pelvic floor muscles and teach you exactly what to do. You may actually have a high tone pelvic floor, which could result in the same symptoms as a weak pelvic floor, but needs different management. No more guessing with You Tube videos and apps!
At Pelvic Health Physiotherapy we carry out a specific, evidence based assessment for return to running after childbirth. We use the latest research to guide our treatments. As part of this, we also look at your core strength, including any separation of the abdominal muscles – called diastasis rectus abdominis. We can give you specific and safe exercises to strengthen these muscles and often as a bonus relieve some of those aches and pains in the lower back too!
There is more to running than just the pelvic floor and abdominals. We also assess the strength and alignment of the pelvis, hips and knees. Before you start running you can be working on exercises to best prepare your body. We will help with running technique to minimise the risk of injuries as you get back out there enjoy some exercise, and time for yourself.
The importance of getting referral to a pelvic health physiotherapist is further highlighted if any of the following signs and symptoms are experienced prior to, or after attempting, return to running:
- Heaviness/ dragging in the pelvic area (can be associated with prolapse)
- Leaking urine or inability to control bowel movements
- Pendular abdomen or noticeable gap along the midline of your abdominal wall. (This may indicate Diastasis Rectus Abdominis)
- Pelvic or lower back pain
- Ongoing or increased blood loss beyond 8 weeks postnatal that is not linked to your monthly cycle
Even if it is quite some time since you had your children, if you are thinking of taking up running, a return to running assessment is worthwhile.
Blog written by: Stephanie Jones, one of our experienced pelvic floor physios. Stephanie is a keen runner herself, and is passionate about helping women return to sport after childbirth or surgery, at any stage of life. Get in touch with us here