Should I leak when I run?

Running is great for mental health, being outdoors provides fresh air, a new perspective and the pounding of your feet in a rhythm can help your thought processes.

However it is also known that the impact of running can elicit symptoms of stress urinary incontinence. That little bit of leaking that you get when you run, or the need to wear a pantyliner/pad is not how our bodies were designed to function and is a symptom that there is a bigger issue.

So should you run whilst you leak?

A review of 28 studies on continent and stress incontinent women showed the timing of pelvic floor activity in relation to movement was key. What does this mean? It means that co-ordinating your pelvic floor with your movement is crucial. This is something that comes with practice. Like any muscle the pelvic floor is one that needs training, but not just on it’s own via kegels. Don’t get me wrong, kegels are definitely useful and have a big role, but these need to be integrated into movement. So if your pelvic floor is not functioning properly when you run, it’s all about practicing moves to prepare for running using pelvic floor cues as well.

Does this mean you may need to stop running whilst you train your pelvic floor? Yes it may do, for a short period of time. Now whilst I completely understand that it is so hard to stop doing an exercise that you love and that is so helpful to you, there is a bigger picture to be seen. If you have the symptoms of leakage then continuing to put impact through a weak muscle can lead to it worsening. This could lead to prolapse, a condition where the pelvic organs descend… and you having to stop running for longer.

Think about it this way, if you had an injury in another muscle, such as a hamstring, then you would seek advice, possibly have some physio, work on exercises to rehabilitate and take time out from running whilst it healed. So why is the pelvic floor any different?

I’m running some brilliant courses that will help you get your pelvic floor up to speed.

Everywoman is a 12 week course with 6 weeks of in person classes and homework, then 6 weeks of online classes. Full support provided including some help with nutrition and stress regulation.

Next course starts in November

Athlete 12 is for you if your pelvic floor is already ok (no leaks) and you have already done come core work first. If you want to get stronger and fitter, it is a brilliant aid to improving your performance and having coached support without paying for a PT each week. This is a 12 week online course with workouts delivered to you and support from myself.

Want to sign up? Drop me an email priya@pilateswithpriya.co.uk

Can you do the knee cap dance?

Knees can be tricky things and are something that people often comment on in class.

“My knee pulls when I do that” 

Now pain is always a sign to stop and reassess.The body is telling you there is a problem and you need modify your movement.

There are a few things you could do:

  1. You can make the same movement smaller working within a range that causes less pain (note it may not be entirely painfree).
  2. Change over to a different exercise that works the same muscles but doesn’t hurt your knee.
  3. Stretch the muscles around you knee and then try again.
  4. Work out what the actual problem is with your knee and work on releasing the tight areas, strengthening the weak areas.

So all these options have their place and in the context of a class it is often options 1-3 that need to be done. However at a later time I definitely advise that you start to assess where the problem is coming from. Start with your range of movement. Can you fully bend and straighten your knee without forcing it? If not it’s about working out which muscle is the problem (see my next blog post to help with this).

The muscles:

The muscles of the knee include the quadriceps/quads, hamstrings and calf muscles. Some other muscles that assist with the movements of the knee include the tensor fasciae latae, popliteus and the articularis genus muscles. The quads extend the leg at the knee and flex the thigh. The hamstrings help to extend the knee and slow down the quads preventing the locking out of the knee or that fast smashing action. All these muscles need to be working properly and at their correct length/tension for the knee to function optimally.

A key exercise to help with kneecap function:

Sit with your legs outstretched, toes to ceiling but relaxed feet, feet in parallel with knee caps towards the ceiling. Feel around your kneecap, if it is relaxed you should be able to wiggle it gently with your fingers. Stroke up the inside and outside of your leg from kneecaps upwards. These are the muscles we want to use, so you are priming them. Now can you do a knee cap dance? Using your quads in the front of your thigh pull your kneecaps up and fully relax afterwards. Place your hands under your knees for a few, on the top of your thigh and around your knee cap. What do you feel? You want the muscles in the front of the thigh to be doing the most work, so your knees do not push down into the floor when the kneecap is tensed. Start doing this exercise seated and progress to standing.

Look out for my next blog on knees which will look at specific muscles to target and how to do so.

How to change your exercise habits for the better.

I often describe Pilates to people as a “back to front type of exercise”. Usually in exercise working as hard as you can means as fast and hard as you can, as many times as you can. The opposite is almost true in Pilates. This is one of the reasons I love it.

Coming from a fitness instructor background I was used to teaching aerobics, spin and step classes. If you weren’t creating a sweat pool, you weren’t getting the most benefits. You know those classes, and DVDs where they say things like “your legs should be crying right now” and “push, push, go faster” or “you should be feeling like you want to collapse right now”, well that wasn’t quite my teaching style but I loved all of that. In fact I still do.

Pilates has taught me so much about my body and how it functions, how I can get the best out of all forms of exercise, how to breath correctly, the mental clarity of exercise and how to slow things down to get maximal gains. All of this I carry over into any other exercise I do. In short, Pilates has completely changed my view on exercise and improved my technique all round.

FOR EXAMPLE….

Let’s take a crunch. Often you see people aiming to do 50 crunches in one go. Pilates has taught me that if you do a sit up/curl up/crunch correctly you only need to do 8-12 repetitions to get the benefits. It is the technique and speed that changes things.

Pilates curl up

With simple arm movements if you focus on your posture and using your body in a functional way then you will actually strengthen the right muscles AND work the core.

A side lying leg lift is someone often put into a LBT style class. Performed whilst keeping your core engaged and your waist lengthened it turns into a completely different exercise.

Side lying leg lift

How to change your exercise habits for the better:

1. Be mindful. Slow down and connect with what you are doing. What muscles are you meant to be working? Is your core switched on? You very much still need your brain in gear when you exercise.

2. Posture check. You can injure yourself or at best not get the most out of a movement by ignoring your posture. You can do a great squat but have your back arched, so pull your lower back. Think about your starting, ending, and your posture during the movement. Video yourself, watch in a mirror or get a PT/fitness instructor to check.

3. Slow it down. Now I don’t necessarily mean running here! However slowing down large compound movements can make you work harder. Try a fast and a slow press up for example.

4. Breath. The breathing really is key. By breathing out on the hardest part of the exercise you recruit those core muscles that little bit more.

5. Use your core in all your cardio and lifting movements too. Core work is not something you leave behind at the end of a Pilates class, but should be something that you take into other movements. Hopefully it will also become a natural reflex so that when you lift something you engage your core.

Pilates helps in Sport.

Currently we are getting a few more sporting types coming through the studio who are looking to use Pilates to improve their performance. Pilates is especially effective in building core stability, improving focus and injury prevention. All sports have their own key patterns of movement and repeated use of these movement patterns can result in muscular imbalance. Less relevant muscle groups can become weak and inefficient, with the more predominant muscles becoming bulky and tight. Pilates focuses on the body as a whole, aiming to rebalance muscles and improve postural alignment. Here are some of the ways Pilates can help in specific sports.

 

Cricket:

Both Mike Atherton and Graham Thorpe use Pilates as a way to overcome previous injuries and to prevent future ones. Pilates provides key benefits for both batsmen and bowlers, which is why many top cricketers use it in their training. Mike Atherton, the former England captain, swore by Pilates as a way both to recover from injuries and to prevent future ones. Graham Thorpe, another England batsman, abandoned his cricket equipment and used Pilates to overcome serious back problems he’d acquired from playing the sport.

Pilates improves flexibility and strength, enhances posture, balance and co-ordination and develops core strength. Incorporating Pilates into your training programme is the perfect way for cricket players to improve their posture which in turn will improve the way they handle their cricket equipment.

Cricket

Snowboarding and Skiing plus Watersports:

Pilates challenges the deep abdominal ‘core’ muscles that help to maintain the dynamic, balanced posture that is essential for safe and efficient skiing or snowboarding. A strong core helps to counteract the twists and turns of the slope, and gives you the ability to negotiate the slopes or the water with great balance and poise.

Golf:

Tiger Woods, Annika Sorrenstam and Rocco Mediate have all incorporated Pilates into their training regimen and the results are clear!

The golf swing is a little one-sided, which can create imbalance in the body. Pilates helps you to swing from your core, not from your limbs, and to balance out the body against the forces of the swing. If you strengthen the core, increase your flexibility, build stability in the pelvis and shoulder girdles and balance both sides of the body, it will allow you to hit it farther, straighter and more accurately.

Golf

Running:

Runners advocate Pilates because it builds long, strong muscles, improves flexibility and lessens the risk of injury. Runners often suffer from back, knee and hip problems from the constant impact involved in running. Pilates concentrates on posture and alignment – it opens up the hips, the vertebrae in the lower back and focuses on joint mobility.

Horse-Riding:

This requires balance, good posture and strong gluts, thighs and core. Pilates will help to correct postural imbalances, create body awareness and stretch out tight glut and hamstrings.

Show Jumping

Football and Rugby:

A growing number of top footballers and rugby players do Pilates as a way of improving co-ordination, mobility, flexibility and technique, as well as for prevention and recovery from injuries. The All Blacks and the Welsh Rugby Union is among the high-profile advocates of Pilates

Football and rugby both demand rapid directional changes, often at near-maximum pace, which demans flexibility in the body. The players also need to deliver controlled power from unbalanced body positions for tackles and scrums – all Pilates movements are initiated from a strong core to provide stability, and targeting these requirements can aid injury prevention and enhance performance by developing stamina, co-ordination and strength. Hamstring tears are common in both sports – focusing on the stabiliser muscles of the pelvis (the buttocks and groin muscles), will help prevent them.

Pilates with Priya: Pilates helps Waterskiing

Pilates IS for Men, Olympics, Diving and WaterSkiing.

Why do people do Pilates with me? It can be for all kinds of reasons, but one of the most common is back ache or being told to by an osteopath/chiropracter/physiotherapist. I find the men tend to creep into classes looking slightly embarassed about it, but after a few weeks realise it’s actually quite hard work and really helps.

What I then love about Pilates is how it gives unexpected results by helping people in other areas too… like in this story below. The man in question came due to back pain but is finding it helps his waterskiing. Which it should 🙂 Yay!

Did you know the GB 2012 Olympic Diving team have a Pilates instructor? True Fact, I met someone who worked with them on the team who was telling me all about it.

Here’s a little testimonial from a man who does Pilates with me, I think it’s a pretty good advert for Pilates 🙂

 

Pilates with Priya: Pilates helps Waterskiing
Pilates with Priya: Pilates helps Waterskiing

 

“A little over a year ago I was seeing an osteopath because of back ache that had been troubling me for several months.  One of the first things that he said to me was that I would really benefit from doing pilates.  Very soon after I started classes with Priya.  Since starting pilates I can honestly say that I have not suffered any significant back pain at all.”

 

I am a qualified waterski coach and I slalom ski three or four times a week in the summer.  This is an extremely demanding sport, which involves high stresses and strains on the body as one is pulled from around 34mph to 60mph and back to 34mph in just over 2 seconds. This requires a great deal of core stability and I have to say that pilates has been the perfect compliment for it.  I regularly use pilates exercises for warming up and warming down.  I would say, in fact, that pilates would be a very helpful aid in training for almost any sport.

 

I only took up pilates in an attempt to address a long standing problem but to be quite honest, as well as really significant increase in my flexibility, and core strength, I have been very surprised about the impact that pilates has had on my performance, fitness and recovery from injury and I would, and in fact do, recommend it to anyone who will listen! “