You're cleared to start activity again at your 6 week checkup. You have been itching to head out for a run for months now. And then a kilometre into the run, it doesn't feel right, something is off. Maybe I should slow down? Nah, its ok, just push through it, I did just have a baby, so I'm a bit out of shape.
Am I sweating my butt off? Nope... I think that is pee? Yep, I for sure pee'd myself.
Now starts the slow, defeated, walk home, with wet pants and a bruised ego.
It sucks! There is no other way to put it, but leaking after babies just sucks. The good news is there is lots we can do about it to reduce or completely eliminate it from happening. First thing, would be to stop running for a bit. I know that is not easy to hear. Running was your release, your alone time, your way to counter the nightly popcorn, chocolate and wine ritual. But I am not saying you have to stop running forever, just for now.
Let's take a couple steps back and tackle some basics before we hit the pavement again.
Step 1: Pelvic Floor Physical Assessment. Try to get in with a pelvic floor physiotherapist to have your pelvic floor assessed and a treatment plan drawn up for your goals. (Inside note: it may not just be weakness! Hypertonic (too tight) pelvic floor muscles can also cause leaking)
Step 2: Pelvic Floor/Core Exercises. Starting with core breaths, you will take a big inhale filling your ribs through all sides, as you are taking that inhale you will RELEASE your pelvic floor. Upon the exhale your ribs will relax and your pelvic floor will draw upward. Try to consciously relax your pelvic floor on the inhale and draw it upwards on the exhale for a few breaths. This will bet the breath you use during your exercise, during your run and over time will become automatic as the muscles regain their memory and maintain proper tension and release. Now that you have mastered the core breath you can incorporate that into your glute bridges, clamshells and dead bugs to help with the coordination of your pelvic floor.
Step 3: Strengthen your Core Muscles. I don't mean to start up a plank or crunch 30 day challenge. We want to focus on some major muscles to strengthen:
Core 4 - Diaphragm, Pelvic Floor, Transverse Abdominus, & Multifidus
Upper Back (I know this one seems odd but Mamas typically are weaker in this area from nursing, feeding and carrying babes and this is a major postural group of muscles)
Step 4: Build your runs back up slowly. Ok so now you can try out some runs. The key that I want you to remember when starting back with your running is are you experiencing any of the 3P's of your pelvic floor? Pressure, Peeing, or Pain?! If you have any of these while exercising, running or even strenuous activities of daily life, I suggest you take a look at the movement and see where we can tweak it.
I suggest you start out with sprinting (I know I said start slow but hang with me here). Start with a short burst of sprints for 10-30 seconds (after a warm up of course) and then walk for 2-5 minutes. The short sprint followed by the longer rest period allows your body to check your posture, catch your breath and find that core breath again before your next sprint session. I would only do 3-5 sprints in a workout to start for a couple of weeks. If that feels good and you have none of the 3P's popping up then you can decrease your rest time by 30 seconds or so and build that up slowly.
Are you nervous to return to running or high intensity workouts? Do you have questions about how to start, or certain issues coming up? I would love to help. You can comment below or send me a message.