You might all be tired of reading about my crotch by now, but I'm going to share a bit more about it anyway. I've been fairly lucky in my running carer so far, never having any serious injuries. I never would have dreamed that the issue that would keep me out for my longest break ever would be my pelvic floor!
It seems like pelvic floor issues, in women generally and specifically postpartum, are gaining awareness. My doula, midwife, and others, made sure to remind me that I can seek treatment, I didn't just have to live with it if I had issues. I know prior generations had more secrecy about these things, and I'm glad it's becoming more known that there are treatments, but it can probably stand to be put out there more. When I first felt what turned out to be a mild bladder prolapse, I started googling it and was seriously afraid that I'd never be able to run again.
I'm still just barely starting this return to running (finally, after a couple false starts!) and I certainly don't think I have it all figured out - I welcome any other tips and advice anyone has to share! But here are some thing that I've found important to keep in mind when having to improve and strengthen your pelvic floor to be able to safely and healthier return to running.
|Not running with the stroller yet, but he can sit in it|
for walks without the car seat now!
1. Ease into it. Seriously, progress even slower than you think you should. I didn't even start with Couch to 5k, because those 60 second intervals might have been too much. My physical therapist threw out the number 10 seconds as a suggestion - which I thought sounded ridiculous, so I went all the way up to 15 seconds!
2. Wear a pad, even if you don't think you need to. I didn't really have the stereotypical issues of leaking while coughing or sneezing, so I truly had no idea how bad things were until my first run. I wore a pad, just in case, and that was a good thing. Until you get things figured out, it doesn't hurt to err on the side of caution.
3. Wear black pants/shorts - just in case. Even once you think you have it all figured out and are on the road to progress - just like everything else baby-related, progress isn't linear. You might not have peed yourself on the last several runs, and then all of a sudden you will. And you'll be really glad you're wearing black pants that make it not too obvious.
4. Talk to your doctor/midwife about it, and see a physical therapist if you need to. Not that I'd given much thought at all, prior to this, to what it takes to have the ability to not pee. But I didn't really know that there are physical therapists who specialize in pelvic floor issues. My midwife recommended one in particular, and she's fantastic. My issues are a combination of weak muscles, tight muscles, and scar tissue. So our sessions include trigger point massage for the tight spots and scar tissues, as well as practicing contractions (both talking through them and using an electronic device to track the pressure), and getting recommendations for what to practice on my own. Even just having her describe kegals or ab contractions in specific ways have made it easier to do them more effectively, in a way that just reading advice on Dr. Google didn't.
5. Don't give up. While there might be a temporary set back, we live in a time with tons of medical advancement. There are treatments and options available. Depending on the severity of your issues, those might escalate beyond doing kegals (even up to surgery), but there is almost certainly something you can do to make your body work the way you want it to.