Over 35,000 people will run this year’s Virgin London Marathon on Sunday 23rd April 2017. At least 45% of those runners will be female – many with more than one child and of those 45% at least half will experience stress induced urinary leaking
It is up to seven times your body-weight that goes through the joints – including the pelvis every time you strike the pavement. With an average 215 strikes per minute that is a lot of pressure and the constant little losses of urine can cause chafing, soreness, irritation and even infection in some cases.
The following 8 tips can help to improve pelvic floor muscle tone and support whilst running helping to lessen the instance of recurring leaks. It may not remove it all in time for the marathon but it will certainly make your run drier and more comfortable:
1. Avoid foods that irritate the bladder such as caffeine, alcohol, tomatoes, cranberry, spicy foods, sugars and even poor quality honey. All these foods and drinks can interfere with the signals to and from the brain and bladder (especially alcohol) and thus should be avoided or minimised. Note that the biggest mistake to make is to avoid drinking water as this may dehydrate the muscles, which will have an adverse affect on strength and tone (ability to hold urine in) in the long term.
2. Know the foods that can help to improve the health and vitality of the urinary tract, the bladder, muscle contraction and sensory awareness. For example: Vitamin C is great for collagen formation and lower urinary tract – and collagen is essential for joint stability. A win-win, pelvic floor, knees and ankles.
3. Mobilise and condition your pelvic floor muscles before you go out for a run – make it a part of your training plan. Co-ordinate your breathing as an exercise to relax, contract and elevate the muscles, stimulating both the slow and fast twitch muscle fibres that provide the continuous hold and support as they react to sudden bursts of increased pressure as you run.
4. Understand the muscles that ‘work with’ your pelvic floor to help improve their ability to support bladder control. The pelvic floor is on the same signal pathway as the transverse abdominals (deep abdominal muscles behind the belly button running across the waist) and the multifidus (an ‘A’ shaped sling of muscles running under the erector spine). These three act as a natural girdle, protecting the spine and stiffening the waist to support the internal organs in place and help minimise the natural pressure that builds up within your body as you do impact sports, sneeze, cough and laugh. Consider strengthening and toning these muscles to give better support to your pelvic floor muscles, with the bonus of better tone and shape to your lower abdominals. The body is a system of systems, everything works together to provide support and protection. Using a device like Elvie will help you ensure you conduct the correct muscle movement and keeps track of your progress.
5. Add a good pinch of unrefined organic grey sea salt to your water bottles (or pink Himalayan Salt) because salt is essential for muscle tone, strength and sensory communication. The pelvic floor is a bag of muscle – the external sphincters that keep you from being embarrassed are of muscle you voluntarily control. Keep this muscle plump and toned and you will see the instance of leaking dramatically decrease. White refined processed salt is a no-no!
6. Try to avoid constipation and straining (linked to poor food choices and emotional harbouring). A compacted colon can weigh as much as 10lbs and a full bladder 3-4lbs. That is almost an extra stone of toxic pressure a added to the pressure mentioned earlier on the joints, pelvis and thus pelvic floor.
7. Don’t avoid good fats vital for effective muscle communication (via nerves). Good fats help build the sensory strength needed for these muscles in order to respond positively to continuous load (internal and external). Coconut oil and organic ghee are two water soluble ‘medium-chain’ fats that can be used in all forms of cooking, topically or as a lubricant, which also provide great healing properties and improve metabolic function (good for weight management).
8. Get adequate sleep at the right time, since the body repairs, restores and rebuild in rest. It does its physical repair between 10pm and 2am and the psychogenic between 2am and 6am. Allowing the body adequate and quality time to recover helps the pelvic floor to avoid muscle weakness and laxity.
Jenni Russell specialises in helping Women to achieve optimum health and fitness throughout their lives. Jenni’s career and expertise spans over 37 years with her having won the British Ultrafit Championship three times (1995, 1998 and 2000), and being crowned Britain’s Fittest Woman. Coupled with her passion for helping Women to discover and strengthen their pelvic floor muscles which improves continence and enhances sexual satisfaction.