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Is impact exercise bad for the pelvic floor?

Before I answer this question, I feel it’s important to consider the benefits of impact exercise.

Impact exercise improves bone mineral density

Firstly, impact exercise is important for the bones and prevention of osteoporosis. No, this is not only important in the older age group, it is just as important (if not more important), in the teenage years and young adulthood. Studies have shown that the most important time to improve bone mineral density is before you achieve peak bone mineral density (the time where your bone is at its strongest, with the highest mineral content), which occurs around the age of 30. This period is where the body is the best at accumulating bone. Long term studies show that women who have lower peak bone mineral densities in their early 30’s are at higher risk of osteopenia or osteoporosis when they get older, increasing their risk of fractures.

Impact exercise gets the heart pumping

Impact exercise is great for cardiovascular health. Yes there are low impact cardio options too, but the most common, most accessible form of cardio is running, a high impact exercise. Cardiovascular exercise is very important for reducing the risks of diabetes, heart disease and excessive weight gain, while also improving, circulation, lung function and cognitive mental performance.

So, is impact exercise bad for the pelvic floor?

This really depends on what state your pelvic floor is and what type of impact exercise you are doing. If you have a strong pelvic floor, with good ligamentous support, and no pelvic floor symptoms, then impact exercise shouldn’t be a problem. In fact, women without symptoms automatically contract their pelvic floor (but are not aware of it). On the other hand, you have a weak pelvic floor, or soft tissue damage (i.e. birth trauma, prolapse etc.), then impact exercise may need to wait or be modified until these things have improved.

The type of impact exercise is also very important, with different types of impact exercise effecting the pelvic floor differently. Landing with your feet apart (like star jumps or jumping jacks), requires more pelvic floor support than landing with your feet together, and landing with your feet together requires much more pelvic support than landing on a single leg (i.e. running or hopping). Being a structure in the midline of the body (between your right and left sides), any exercise that involves jumping off, or landing on 2 legs will naturally put more strain on the pelvic floor and requires more pelvic floor support, whereas exercises jumping and landing on one leg (like running or hopping), require less. So if you feel symptoms with one type of impact exercise, try another.

Pelvic floor symptoms with exercise are common, but not are normal, and can worsen if ignored. If you are having pelvic floor symptoms with any sort of exercise, make sure you see a physiotherapist. Physiotherapists who treat the pelvic floor are experienced in working with women to improve their pelvic floor strength and function, to achieve their exercise goals.


Baxter-Jones, A. D. G., Kontulainen, S. A., Faulkner, R. A., & Bailey, D. A. (2008). A longitudinal study of the relationship of physical activity to bone mineral accrual from adolescence to young adulthood. Bone, 43(6), 1101-1107.

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