Let’s talk about return to running with prolapse! Activities with high impact forces can be tricky in the presence of a pelvic organ prolapse. We want to limit those forces and prepare for them as we recover from a pregnancy. However, integrating strategies to keep those forces inside the tolerance of the active (muscle) and passive (fascia, ligaments) structures that support the pelvic organs is a way forward. We can use these ideas to help keep impact activities on the table as you plan for a gradual return.
Strategies for Running with Prolapse
Here are some adaptions and strategies to consider as you begin your return to running with prolapse. Take a deeper dive by listening to the podcast below with Dr. Bri Grogan of Vibrant Pelvic Health to hear more and see these concepts demonstrated.
- Avoid using your abdominals stiffly and holding your pelvic floor rigidly while you run. Stiffness is not what you need when you are trying to absorb impact. Instead, we need to be springs with each step. This includes having a springy center.
- A great tool to become springy, is to relearn how to re-create the up and down movement of the diaphragm-abdominal-pelvic floor system. This up and down motion mimics the shock absorption cycle we need for a run. The efficient use of that system also reduces the pressure and forces from above on a prolapse below caused by shallow breaths and a contracted abdomen.
- Optimizing your running mechanics is key. Both emphasizing rotation through your whole torso (not just your upper chest) and leaning in to the run can go a long way to reduce impact forces that might aggravate a prolapse.
- Above all, remember to listen to your symptoms. They are a signal and guide for how your system is handling the forces and loads. Modify your strategies as needed. In addition, if a return to impact is one of your goals recommend getting evaluated if you have a confirmed or are suspicious of a prolapse. Supportive feedback and additional intervention can help guide you.
Listen in the conversation with Dr. Bri Grogan below to see these ideas discussed and demonstrated at greater depth to help you implement them. (see below for a content note and how to access more resources to help you pull this off below!)
Please note, one clarification from the conversation. There is a question about ‘bracing the core’ during activity. In the conversation, I understood that question (and I think the intention) related to specificity of training. In essence, a comparison of a more static activity that targets a uniform use of the abdominal wall versus a dynamic activity like running that requires reciprocation (alternating) use of the two sides of the abdominal wall. Without that context, it may be confusing within the conversation as a whole. The abdominal strategy you use in any activity should match the task. Simply, a stiff abdomen doesn’t match the demands of running, particularly if you are running with prolapse.
To be clear, sustained abdominal contractions may create pressure from above on a prolapse below. However, this doesn’t mean ab work is inherently ‘bad’. Adapting the ab-focused activity is a great strategy! If you want to hear more about how I suggest we reconsider bracing the core, with some suggestions that would ease the interaction of the abdominal wall with a prolapse see more info here: : Should I Brace My Core During Exercise
Courses related to this topic offered in the podcast can be found here: