Do you pee when you jump or run? How about when you sneeze or cough?
Leakage is something females deal with (in fact 1 in 3 women), but we don’t have to continually live with it. Leakage isn’t occurring only in females who have given birth either.
Young women involved in sports, “report stress urinary from 0 to 80%, depending of the physical activities, their intensity and impact. The prevalence is higher during high-impact activities; especially trampolinists and volleyball players show a high prevalence rate from 65.7 to 80%.”
If nearly 80% of females who play sports are leaking, they need a better strategy besides kegels. Kegels are an isolated way to contract the pelvic floor muscles. They aren’t the only answer, but they are one component in a better strategy.
I remember the first time I peed my pants while jumping on the trampoline with my kids. They were about 4 and 5 years of age and I was shocked when it all let loose. A couple years later I attempted double unders and I was mortified. I full on wet my pants.
My friends assured me I was now part of the club. But here’s the thing, your pelvic floor is an integral part of your core. Weaknesses and imbalances in your pelvic floor can affect the rest of the kinetic chain. Women with a weak pelvic floor will tend to have tight adductor muscles, tight hip flexors, weak gluteal muscles, and bracing around the rib cage as a compensatory pattern.
Here’s the good news.
Pelvic floor muscle activity increases before heel strike during a run or walk. That means that the pelvic floor is actually preparing the core for greater impact. It’s anticipating the load! Therefore, running and jumping don’t always have to result in leaking. The way you learn to connect to these muscles is through breathing. Breathing brings the brain back on board with recruiting the proper muscles. Once you connect, you can train the muscles strength and timing through various exercises. Then you progress the training by loading the muscles and expecting them to work efficiently since that’s what they are designed for.
Some of my patient’s goals are to jump rope without leaking. So we start with a standing strategy to connect to the pelvic floor muscles through breathing. If you have difficulty connecting to these muscles in this position, do not fret. There are other ways to connect your breathing to your pelvic floor. This is one of the many things we cover in my online core connection program.
Pelvic floor standing strategy
Sometimes it just takes a subtle shift in alignment to keep the pelvic floor muscles engaged. This is position is where I have my patients learn to connect the breath and pelvic floor in standing. The strategy is to lean forward from the ankles and bring the rib cage over the pelvis. Inhale from the lower rib cage and feel the pelvic floor open, then exhale and perform a kegel. The kegel should be similar to lifting a blueberry up and in (not forced and tense). When you get the roof (diaphragm) and floor (pelvic floor) of your core working together as they are meant to, the diaphragm and pelvic floor will mirror each other naturally. This is something you want to capitalize on when training the pelvic floor.
Connecting your breath with your pelvic floor in standing should happen first so you can trust the connection to work efficiently under an impact like jumping rope.
Jump Rope Strategy
This strategy has made the difference in so many of my clients who want to be active yet struggle with leaks. Empowering the body to work more efficiently is where it’s at.
- Watch your form: Are your hips behind your shoulders ? Is your weight posterior ?
- Lean forward from your ankles.
- Alignment matters. Stacking your rib cage over your pelvis allows for better connection and timing of your pelvic floor to accept the load.
- Connection matters. Breathe to connect to the pelvic floor and lower abdominals.
- Exhale on impact
Watch this simple strategy for jumping rope via video on my instagram page.