Feeling like you’re going to leak urine during a run (or actually leaking)?
Are you experiencing pelvic pain or a sensation of heaviness down there? Do you have achy hips or lower-back soreness that doesn’t seem to go away?
If you’ve ever experienced these symptoms, there’s a good chance your pelvic floor could use a tuneup. It’s important to realize this is common and treatable. Studies show that up to one third of women are affected by pelvic floor dysfunction, which refers to a number of issues ranging from the frequent urge to urinate to dropped pelvic organs (prolapse).
Symptoms may become more noticeable during running due to the added stress upon impact, says Julie Wiebe, a Los Angeles–based physical therapist who specializes in treating female athletes. “These symptoms can respond to care, but won’t just go away if ignored and could lead to musculoskeletal fallout and affect performance,” she explains.
Your pelvic floor forms a sling at the base of your pelvis. It is part of a team of core muscles that, Wiebe says, “are shown to anticipate a movement challenge and prepare for it by helping anchor your body at its center.”
New moms, take note: During pregnancy and childbirth, these anticipatory core muscles and other postural muscles go through many changes. Women should aim to restore communication and balance between these muscles before returning to running. Wiebe recommends following the three-prong strategy here as well as seeing a women’s health physical therapist if you are experiencing any pelvic or musculoskeletal symptoms.