I’ve been considering, for over a year now, writing about the potential hazards of sex on the athlete’s body. I finally decided to quit being such a prude and air the issue. I do this in hope that some of you might be able to relate and so that we can share advice on how to avoid chronic injury without eliminating running or sex.
We all know that injuries do happen in the bedroom. Last year a survey was conducted in the UK that supported this assumption. You can read about it here. Apparently, the US is still a bit quiet about what is happening behind closed doors. The survey conducted in England reported that 1 in 3 sexually active individuals had maintained a sex-related injury. Some of these injuries took some planning (ie. inanimate objects stuck where the sun does NOT shine, concussion after doing a back flip off a penis…WOW); however, I’m more interested in the strains, sprains, potential fractures and misalignments.
Personal experience (gulp)–the reason I didn’t want to publish this article. Someone has to start talking about it though. I’ve had a tightness in my left hip flexor for quite some time. I have had this pain when taking 2 months off of the running trails for an unrelated foot issue and cannot identify the running motion that seems to be causing the pain (not that this, at all, means that running/swimming/cycling may not be causing or aggravating the injury). I can, however, identify the pulling pain during intercourse…but, let’s face it…my mind quickly forgets the groin pain. After talking with fellow runners, I was told of a few stretches that will help. Also, another running friend posted a blog about using the foam roller to massage all the important muscle groups, which I will be implementing post run and sex, IMMEDIATELY. I think it’s only fitting the video point out that we should look like a “monkey humping a football” when rolling out the inner leg. What muscle groups are involved in humping you might be wondering?
Well, all of them could be. Maybe I am not searching hard enough, but the only articles I’ve actually found that discuss strength training for sex muscles concern the abdominals and pelvic floor. Come on! We know we use more muscles than that. Let’s start with the hips. I can’t think of a more model sex motion than hip movement. The rectus femoris, psoas major and illiacus provide the hip area with stability and aid in hip movement. A tightness in these muscles can throw our pelvis out of alignment, cause strains and sprains and, shockingly to most readers, cause fractures in the pelvic girdle. Many woman who have maintained a healthy running body through their entire pregnancy will come back too quickly postpartum and sustain hip-related injuries. This has happened to a couple of my running friends and 2012 Olympic Marathon qualifier Kara Goucher. (You can read about her injury here.)
In addition to the aforementioned muscle groups, we also should think about our glutes and outer leg. More specific to running, the piriformis muscle and iliotibial tract (IT band). As runners, most of us suck at keeping these areas happy anyway. A tight piriformis can cause “snapping hip” and pressure on the sciatic nerve, among other symptoms. The misalignment of the pelvis or gluteus maxiumus tightness can pull on the IT band, which most often causes knee pain (aka “runner’s knee”).
Should I continue…? I think we get the point just by analyzing part of the pelvic region. This does not even account for the chemicals produced during sex, which allow you to ignore some pain and over stretch normally tight muscles. If any of you have actually read peer reviewed articles on this matter or have conducted research that is remotely relevant, the more in-depth information would be appreciated. Until then happy running…and other stuff. 😉
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