Pelvic floor tissue damping during running using an intra-vaginal accelerometry approach

Clin Biomech (Bristol, Avon). 2022 Feb:92:105554. doi: 10.1016/j.clinbiomech.2021.105554. Epub 2021 Dec 29.


Background: While cumulative loading of the pelvic floor during exercise appears to increase the risk of developing pelvic floor disorders, the pathophysiologic role of pelvic floor loading is poorly understood. The aim of this exploratory study was to present a method for evaluating vibrational frequency damping of the female pelvic floor and to investigate the potential utility of this approach in a preliminary evaluation.

Methods: Female participants were instrumented with an intravaginal accelerometer and a hip-mounted accelerometer, then ran on a treadmill at 7 km/h and 10 km/h both before and after a 30-min self-selected pace. Displacement of the pelvic floor relative to the bony pelvis was calculated using double integration of the accelerometer data. Vibrational damping coefficients were calculated using a wavelet-based approach to determine the effect of continence status, parity, running speed and time on vibrational damping.

Findings: Seventeen women (n = 10 reported regularly leaking urine while exercising, while n = 7 reported not leaking) completed the running protocol. No differences in vibrational damping were detected between continent and incontinent women when all frequency bands were evaluated together, however significant effects of parity, time, running speed and continence status were found within specific frequency bands. Parous women demonstrated less damping in the 25-40 Hz band compared to nulliparae, damping in the 13-16 Hz band was lower after the 30-min run, and incontinent women demonstrated lower damping in the 4.5-5.5 Hz band than continent women when running at 7 km/h.

Interpretation: Intra-vaginal vibrational damping may be useful in detecting biomechanical mechanisms associated with pelvic floor disorders experienced by females during exercise.

Keywords: Accelerometry; Pelvic floor disorders; Running; Stress urinary incontinence; Vibrational damping.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accelerometry
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pelvic Floor* / physiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Urinary Incontinence, Stress*
  • Vagina / physiology