Less lower back pain when jogging thanks to the pelvic floor

Gender Medicine: Weniger Kreuzschmerzen beim Joggen dank Beckenboden

Many women suffer from back pain when jogging – and from incontinence. Learn more about the correlation and what women can do about it.

Lower back pain and incontinence: the correlation

For 12 years, the scientific community has known something that hasn't yet been fully recognised in running and mass sports: there is a clear connection between lower back pain and incontinence! The study published in 2008 [Kerstin Eliasson et al; Karolinska Institut Stockholm] spells it out clearly:

Out of 200 female patients suffering from back pain, 78 percent suffered low back pain and urinary incontinence at the same time.

A strong correlation, with the pelvic floor as the common denominator. If the pelvic floor increasingly loses its basic activity, responsiveness and strength, this will have negative effects on continence and the small of the back. Both problems are probably due to bad posture and incorrect load distribution when standing, walking and running.

Timing tops strength

When the pelvic floor can no longer remain tight when laughing, sneezing, running, and jumping, this is referred to as "stress incontinence". It's usually not a strength problem, but a lack of speed control if it happens when running! The pelvic floor must respond in just 150 milliseconds from ground contact to full load. This is ultra-short! If the contraction impulse in the pelvic floor is too slow, it's already too late. In order for the pelvic floor to reflexively develop its impulse force, coordination and timing are required.

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Fig. 1: Walking downstairs is ideal pelvic floor training: a strong pelvic floor protects against lower back pain [Photo: Claudia Larsen; © Spiraldynamik, Zurich]

To run or not to run?

As to whether running benefits or harms the pelvic floor, my answer is: “there are different ways to run” - the “how” is important. With the right know-how, you can gradually activate your pelvic floor and thus lay the foundation for continence and vitality.

Pelvic stability when bouncing, jumping, landing

Skipping helps you discover and integrate the impulse force of the pelvic floor into your everyday life.

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Fig. 2: Jumping with or without a rope: with every landing, strong forces act upon the pelvic floor, which must react ultra-fast in a fraction of a second. [Photo: Claudia Larsen, Zurich. © Medical Running, p. 186, TRIAS, Stuttgart]

Benefits

More stability in the pelvis and small of the back when jumping and running. The interaction of pelvic floor and foot creates a greater impulse force when pushing off and more suppleness when landing.

Action

Bouncing on both legs
  • The heels are lifted up, the balls of the big and little toe are evenly loaded
  • The pelvis is upright. The pelvic floor is alert. The lower abdomen is actively supportive. 
  • The sit bones remain close together like two magnets. 
  • Ready – steady – bounce!

Dosage

1 minute, 2-3 sets with a one-minute break, 3 times a week for 6-8 weeks.

Variations

  1. Change amplitude and speed
  2. Skip, alternating between both legs and one leg

Take note

Don't hollow your back! Avoid sinking or pushing the pelvis sideways!

  • Feel how the forefoot activates the pelvic floor when pushing off.
  • Land as smoothly as a cat with the soft cushioning in the foot.
Tip
  • Medical Running Workshop Level 1: Starting safely – ideal for all those wanting to run healthily (in german).
  • Medical Running Tageskurs Level 2: Running technique – ideal for everybody wanting to improve their running performance (in german).