Beth Davies Coaching

Returning to Rugby Post Baby

Like many elements of women’s health, there isn’t a huge amount of literature on women’s rugby and the pelvic floor. However, I am citing 2 very new studies, both published in 2024 to illustrate the incidence of pelvic floor dysfunction. Plus, there is a need for more pelvic health education in rugby (and sports as a whole…) . The 2 studies are: 

“Up for the tackle. The pelvic floor and rugby. A review” by Donelly, Forner, Rankin & Moore 

And a study by McCarthy-Ryan et al, 2024 called “Is your system fit for purpose? Female Athlete health considerations for rugby injury”

I’ll use these to illustrate the incidence of pelvic floor dysfunction plus recommendations on how to rehab post-baby and return to the demands of a sport like rugby. 

Do female rugby players experience pelvic floor issues?

It’s important to point out that pelvic floor issues arise in many sports, especially if they involve running, jumping & lifting (see below).

A study by McCarthy-Ryan identified factors that increased the odds of pelvic floor dysfunction and focused on women’s rugby. 

63-88% of players had stress urinary incontinence with 43% having rugby-related SUI (stress urinary incontinence)
• SUI prevalence increased once started playing rugby

Factors that increased the odds of having rugby-related SUI included;
• Constipation
• given birth
• higher BMI
• play as a forward

rates of incontinence in female athletes

Taken from High Impact and Weight Lifting course with women’s health physio Helen Keeble 

 

What is the impact of pelvic floor issues on exercise participation?

A study by Dakic et al (2017) included over 4,500 18- to 65-year-old women with self-identified pelvic floor symptoms during exercise (current, past or fear of). 

Of this cohort, 46% stopped the exercise they had previously participated in due to their pelvic floor symptoms. Urinary incontinence had the largest impact; 41% with UI, followed by 37% with Pelvic Organ Prolapse, and 26% with Anal Incontinence stopped at least one form of exercise.

42% of women who experienced symptoms in high-impact sports stopped participation (versus low-impact: 21%). 

And it wasn’t just women who had children; exercise cessation was reported amongst younger (18-25 years: 35%) and nulliparous women (31%). Common exercise modifications included lowering the intensity (58%) or frequency (34%) of participation or changing to a low-impact form of sport/exercise (45%).

How can you avoid pelvic floor issues returning to rugby post baby?

The infographic below shows a summary of the research study by Donelly et al called “Up for the tackle” and provides a depth of information about the pelvic floor (especially during rugby) and how to return to rehab and return to rugby post baby. 

This shows starting with isolated pelvic floor exercises and then building up strength and impact by using progressive overload and rugby specific training. 

Return to rugby post baby

Beth Davies is a highly experienced personal trainer and coach specialising in female pelvic health, pelvic organ prolapse and exercise. Her programmes educate, empower and support women back to training or their active life, eliminating symptoms and building strength and confidence. She has been featured in women’s lifestyle magazines and websites, including  StylistMetroWoman & Home and Marie Claire UK 

Beth’s training and coaching for women with pelvic organ prolapse provides face-to-face personal training in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, and online across the UK and Europe. 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *