Five Sports that Weaken the Pelvic Floor in Women

Sports are all about health overall even though some of them may wreak havoc, in fact, one of the most affected areas is the pelvic floor in women. You can prevent it though, just check out the list of sports that weaken this muscle containment network below.
Five Sports that Weaken the Pelvic Floor in Women

Last update: 02 September, 2021

Physical activity has many benefits, but there are also risks due to localized wear and tear and even a weakening of the pelvic floor in women. So, you should be aware of the complications that may arise in the medium term before starting a new activity. Today’s article will discuss some of them.

In principle, the pelvic floor is a network of muscles, joints, and ligaments that allow the fixation of the surrounding organs. Thus, the uterus, vagina, bladder, and rectum are in the ideal positions to function as they should.

An optimal condition of the pelvic floor is important as it impacts the urinary system, the regular process of defecation, comfortable sexual intercourse, and safe childbirth. Certain problems reduce the range of motion during a given physical activity due to pain. In fact, it can be disabling. Read on to learn about the influence of physical activity on some kinds of problems.

Why do some activities weaken the pelvic floor?

The weakening caused by some activities is due to the pressure exerted on the perineal area. This is due to the frequent impact activities, weight lifting, and abdominal demanding disciplines, which gradually wear down the resistance of this area.

This condition of regular impact exercises aggravates when coupled with the following factors:

  • Obesity
  • Constipation
  • Respiratory difficulties
  • Smoking
  • Genetic conditions
  • Menopause
  • Pelvic surgeries

What happens with abdominal contractions is that they put pressure on the bladder, directly affecting the ring-shaped muscle called the sphincter. What’s the side effect? Increasing difficulty in holding urine. In fact, this loss of urinary restraint is evident in a gradual and increasing manner.

According to a study published in the Revista Iberoamericana de Fisioterapia y Kinesiología, urinary incontinence in elite sportswomen is high. This is because there are several risk factors. However, there are still doubts in regard to the numbers and the specific pathophysiology. Some assume that this is an irremediable consequence of childbirth, and often consult a doctor when it’s too late.

A woman taking a break.
Some activities tend to weaken the pelvic floor in women as they exert constant pressure on the area.

Five activities that could weaken the pelvic floor

Below we’re listing some of the activities that could weaken the pelvic floor along with the main considerations about their incidence. You’ll read about the impact of running, tennis, soccer, cycling, and weightlifting.

1. Running

This energy-intensive activity places the greatest demands on the lower body. The characteristic width of the stride, the long runs, and the intensity of the movement of this discipline produce tension on the pelvic floor.

In addition, other parts of running that are harmful to the pelvic floor are the impact on the heel, the cadence of fewer than 180 steps per minute, and doing so on hard ground.

2. Tennis

The explosive changes of direction and pace during tennis matches cause constant tension in the abdomen. Thus, the longer the time you sustain the pressure, the higher the possibility of weakening.

Jumping is another component related to hyper-pressure. Therefore, tennis strokes must be done in a way that doesn’t alter pelvic health over time.

3. Soccer

Passes, medium-long distance shots, jumps, sudden changes of direction, and leg activity, in general, are inevitable sources of pelvic floor contractions. Specialists recommend discontinuing this activity as soon as you perceive the first signs of incontinence.

4. Cycling

In theory, it would seem that cycling shouldn’t be one of the sports that weaken the pelvic floor. However, this relentless pedaling activity has many running variations that cause greater difficulties. The most aggressive variant is suspension pedaling — when you lift yourself up. This is because it creates harmful tension.

5. Weightlifting

Two negative conditioning factors are evident during weightlifting: the load and the impact. Both are directed towards the abdomen and secondly redirected to the pelvic floor. In this respect, there’s a loss of effort until it reaches an irreversible phase.

Likewise, chronic elevation of abdominal pressure is denoted by the choice of higher loads for weightlifting sessions. It is, therefore, contraindicated for overweight women with a history of pelvic difficulties.

How to strengthen the pelvic floor

Now that you know which activities can weaken the pelvic floor, it’s time to find a way to strengthen it and counteract the various problems it causes. Physiotherapy (analytical exercise) and electrostimulation are the best ways to do this.

Physiotherapy

The main physiotherapy strategy is doing Kegel exercises. Follow these steps to properly execute them:

  • Empty the bladder
  • Lie on your back and tighten your pelvic floor muscles for five seconds without holding your breath
  • Release the tension and hold that state for five seconds
  • Repeat the sequence eight to 10 times
  • Use this technique three times a day, preferably in the morning, afternoon, and evening
A woman doing yoga.
Regular practice of Kegel exercises can help strengthen the pelvic floor.

Check out these Three Yoga Poses for Pelvic Health

Muscle electrostimulation

Last, but not least, muscle electrostimulation (EMS) is another good way to prevent the weakening of the pelvic floor. It consists of the implementation of an electric current as a stimulus for the muscles to contract at a specific intensity. These impulses come from electrodes that are in contact with the skin and help strengthen this area as well as the abdomen.

Final considerations about the pelvic floor in women

Once you master the basic version of the Kegel exercises, specialists recommend using the variations that increase the intensity and contraction cycles. This is to maximize the strengthening by reducing the type of weakening that leads to other physical difficulties.

Finally, we must mention that other activities that are good for maintaining or recovering the strength of the pelvic floor are swimming, pilates, and yoga. In short, avoiding activities that weaken it, paying attention to the factors that aggravate the problem, and strengthening regularly are the best ways to stay on top.

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