While running might bring to mind rippling abs and toned calves, the muscles deep in our cores matter just as much when we’re striding towards the finish line. Planks and crunches are indeed important for developing a strong core, but don’t underestimate the pelvic floor!
A strong pelvic floor does more than improve orgasms and bladder control (as if that wasn’t already enough!); this muscle group also helps stabilize the core and prevent injury during exercise. As a high-impact sport, running creates a lot of physical force in the body with each stride. When our feet make contact with the concrete, this impact travels up the legs and through the pelvic floor. This can lead to progressive weakening of the muscles, and so stress incontinence is a relatively common complaint among runners (and other athletes too).
In fact, sports and urinary incontinence are more closely linked than you might have thought—probably because the topic makes so many of us squirm! But there’s no reason to feel embarrassed. Pelvic floor dysfunction is widely experienced, with studies reporting over 50% of elite female athletes experience leakage during exercise, and yet only 3.3% have discussed it with their doctor, and only 4.6% had tried pelvic floor training.
As they say, prevention is better than a cure. To keep you fighting fit, here are five pelvic floor exercises to get these deep-core muscles in top condition, so you can take home the gold…
Simple Kegel training
Work on building up your core strength and pelvic floor control with regular pelvic floor or Kegel training. Biofeedback devices, like Elvie Trainer, connect to an app that helps you visualize the exercises in real-time and can even guide you a fun, five-minute workout that exercises every aspect of your pelvic floor. It can be really tricky to know if you’re exercising correctly and to stay motivated, but Evie Trainer can detect the direction of your contractions and alert you if you’re exercising incorrectly. The app also tracks your workout history and progress over time so that you don’t get bored or give up!
Using exercises that isolate the pelvic floor is the first step in building core stability… which means fewer leaks! Once you’ve perfected the technique for Kegel exercises, it’s time to incorporate the pelvic floor into more dynamic movements.
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