I just finished a morning run and I was thinking about how running has helped to strengthen my pelvic floor.  These were thoughts I needed and wanted to share with those of you who have avoided whatever activities you used to do, including regular fitness like walking, running, hiking and aerobics, because of incontinence or prolapse issues.  The truth is, that just like my legs and arms are stronger and more toned because of my running and stabilization exercises… so is my pelvic floor.

 

I certainly wasn’t symptom-free when I started.  I had done all the exercises included in the Hab It:  Pelvic Floor DVD, consistently, for 8 weeks and was symptom-free with my daily activities.  But, now I wanted to get back to my regular cardio workouts.  I remember when I first started running after delivering each of my babies (which was well after my OB gave me clearance at 6 weeks, because I felt such a heaviness in my vaginal opening).  I felt like I had to suck my stomach in and keep all my air up in my chest to help pull my pelvic floor (PF) up.  It wasn’t a comfortable feeling, but I knew through experience that if I pushed my body to a new level, it would adapt and strengthen to accommodate the new challenges.  I also knew that if I avoided all the activities that caused my prolapse or incontinence to increase, my body would never strengthen to the degree that I needed it to, to maximize my activity level and feel like my old self again.

 

So I ran.  I worked my way into it slowly, alternating running and biking days and building my time and intensity gradually.  What happened over the next 4 weeks was a decrease in that heaviness I felt within my vaginal opening while running and I also noticed that I never thought about it during my daily activities any more, including yard work, vacuuming, and carrying one or two of my children at any given moment.

 

I did, however notice that I could still feel my prolapse when I would sprint.  So that was my next challenge.  I began tossing in ten 50-100 yard sprints twice a week.  My body once again got stronger.  I have heard the same stories from hikers who would continue to experience symptoms as they would descend from their hike, or women who avoided jumping jacks, etc.  My advice has always been the same:  Gradually increase the load and intensity of exercise and your body will respond with appropriate strength and endurance gains.  Remember this is true when rehabilitating any muscle group in your bodies, including a leg muscle, a shoulder muscle, your back muscles, or your pelvic floor muscles.

 

My rehabilitation recommendation for advanced PF strengthening is to perform 6 core and PF stabilization exercises each day, including your Kegel exercise (both quick flicks and long holds) and exercises aimed at strengthening inner thighs, low back, transversus abdominus, and hip rotators (you can find four physical therapist-guided workouts on the Hab It: Pelvic Floor DVD).  Also, learn to find neutral spine and be aware of your posture and hold it there with contractions of your transversus abdominus and multifidi muscles (also on the Hab It DVD).

 

And the bonus on the days where you can squeeze it in is 20 minutes or more of a cardio workout to challenge your weak PF muscles.  The next question may be, “How do I fit that in to my already crazy schedule?”  The answer will vary for each of you.  It may be in the morning or during nap time or maybe at night.  A 20-minute workout is easier to shoe horn in than an hour-long workout so I have included an example of one of my running workouts below.  Usually I can get this one in before my kids wake up in the morning or during nap time because, let’s face it – I, like many of you, have 3 little ones right beside me most of my day.

 

This is one of my favorites, a quick and a good strength builder.  But don’t forget, your stabilization exercises are the priority and the cardio is a bonus right now!

 

 

Treadmill Program – 20 minutes

 

The idea here is to be running at your comfortable 30-minute run pace at the 10-minute mark.  This means start wherever you like and increase as fast as you like so that at the 10-minute mark you are at a pre-determined pace.  Then the increasing begins.  1 mph every 30 seconds for the next 10 minutes.  Challenge yourself!

 

1.      Begin on treadmill, running at a good pace.

2.      Build yourself up so that at the 10 minute mark you are at your normal treadmill running pace.

3.      At 10 minute mark, increase your pace one tenth mph (i.e. from 7.5 to 7.6 mph)

4.      Continue to increase your pace by one tenth every 30 seconds. ( This means that your race pace will go up 2 mph by the end of your run)

5.      You are done at the 20 minute mark.

 

Great Job!!!

 

 

Published by Tasha

9 Comments

  1. Thank you much for that wonderful blog post.

    Reply
  2. Thanks for this blog–it is very encouraging to hear your experiences. I am one of those people who avoids some of the exercise I used to do before having my baby, but I am feeling stronger and will hopefully try that treadmill routine soon!

    Reply
  3. Hello! I just got started with your dvd/program. Is the instruction to do ALL FOUR workouts in a row, three times per week? For some reason, I’m confused. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Definitely no need to do all 4 in a row – just one complete workout will get you on your way. We developed 4 workouts so that people had some variety. We made a point to develop each of the workouts so that it touches on all the muscles that need to be strengthened. So, if you find one in particular that you like, stick with it. Or, if you feel like you need to mix things up, you can switch around among the workouts. The last one is harder than the others, so work up to that one. Also, once you get the hang of the exercises, keep in mind that we have the “time efficient” workouts…you can access them at the end. They’re the same workouts but without the longer introductions that explain how to set up for th exercises. So, once you’ve mastered them, you might want to use those workouts to make them more time efficient. I hope that helps! We would love to hear what you think of the DVD and workouts so please keep us posted. Good luck!

      Reply
  4. I enjoy this site, it is worth me coming back

    Reply
  5. Hi Tasha,
    I just read your response to Chris, and was wondering if you can do more than one workout at a time, or if that is overdoing it. I was thinking 2 workouts in one sitting, 3x a week. I just recently purchased you DVD and began today with workout 1.

    Reply
  6. Shannon, you can certainly do two workouts in one day, but just skip the 2 step kegel sequence for the second workout, as I like to keep these reps to 8-10 per day to prevent over-fatiguing your pelvic floor.

    I would, however, recommend that you perform those 8 two step kegel exercises on a daily basis — even the days you don’t do a full workout on the dvd!

    Good luck and let everyone know of your progress!

    Tasha

    Reply
  7. Hi Tasha,

    Thanks so much for this post and for the DVD. I’ve been doing workout 1 for the past week and just did workout 2 tonight. It’s such subtle movements, yet I’m really feeling them. I’m so looking forward to being symptom free in my daily life and (gasp) actually attempting exercising again. I miss jumping with my 3 year old!

    PS I also really appreciate the tip of doing the 2-step kegels on any off-days I have from the workout…and to not over-do it on the days I do workout. So good! 🙂

    Reply
  8. Angie,

    That is what this workout is all about…taking a step back and concentrating on those subtle, less obvious muscles that truly anchor us from the inside. When you achieve better voluntary control of these muscles, you WILL have significant improvement of your symptoms and better posture as well. There is a time and place for strengthening the big muscles over the top, but its those quiet ones we have to pay attention to first.

    Tasha

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.