Training

Run in Comfort

Over 37,000 people will run this year’s Virgin London Marathon. At least 45 per cent of those runners will be female – many with more than one child. Of those, at least half will experience a condition known as stress-induced urinary leaking...

As we run, up to seven times our body weight goes through our joints as our foot hits the road. This includes the pelvis. With an average 215 strikes per minute, that is a lot of pressure which can cause repeated little losses of urine. In turn, this can cause chaffing, soreness, irritation and even infection in some cases.

One way to guard against this happening is to strengthen up your pelvic floor.

The following eight tips can help to improve pelvic floor muscle tone and support whilst running, helping to lessen the instance of recurring leaks. They may not remove it all in time for the marathon but should certainly make your run drier and more comfortable.

1. Take care of your bladder

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. Do not avoid water, however, as this may dehydrate the muscles, which will have an adverse effect on strength and tone (ability to hold urine in) in the long term.

2. Know your food

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 for the pelvic floor, knees and ankles.

3. Work on your pelvic floor

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. Strengthen your muscles

Strengthen 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. Strengthening and toning these muscles gives better support to your pelvic floor muscles.

5. Avoid constipation

Chose foods that will help you avoid constipation and straining. A compacted colon can weigh as much as 10lbs and a full bladder 3-4lbs. That is almost an extra stone of toxic pressure added to the pressure mentioned earlier on the joints, pelvis and thus pelvic floor.

6. Add salt

Add a good pinch of unrefined organic grey sea salt or pink Himalayan Salt to your water bottles. 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 made 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!

7. Good fats

Consume good fats vital for effective muscle communication (via nerves). Good fats help build the sensory strength needed for these muscles 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. Plenty of rest

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.