Stop hurting women with exercise!

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Stop hurting women with exercise!

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Stop hurting women with exercise!

Last week I saw a new client. Her story (unfortunately) is not unusual. Let’s call her Laura.

Shock was just one of the emotions Laura felt when she felt and saw something push out of her vagina. With help of Dr. Google she diagnosed herself with prolapse and to Laura’s credit, had gone directly to a Women’s Health Physiotherapist. The physio had not only got her pelvic floor on track, but had educated her in the many other facets that make for good pelvic floor function — toileting habits, asked about pelvic pain and sex, explained the many various options available to her now (surgery, pessaries, etc).

Laura came to see me to experience the Movement and Recovery Program on the Power Plate. Laura is not a crazy A type, I-must-exercise-REALLY-hard-for-it-to mean-anything-sort-of-person, but she loved exercise and wanted to return to an active lifestyle. But now, Laura understood that her prolapse affected every physical decisions she made, and she wanted to get the right advice about where to go from here.

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You see this is what we do. At mishfit we help women navigate exercise safely.

My goal is always to keep women active. The biggest health risk to women over 35 is not obesity or smoking… it is inactivity. And there is nothing like a prolapse or incontinence to keep women inactive. I try not to judge someone’s exercise choice — their favourite activity may be cross fit or it may be couch surfing. Regardless, there are skills that women can learn which can lessen the intra-abdominal pressure involved in both getting off their couch, or performing a box jump and thereby minimise impact on pelvic floor. I help women become confident ‘body-listeners’ as their body shares with them what is right for them at this stage of their recovery, their monthly cycle or what ever else that they bring to this party (this part can be very diverse… but that is another whole article!)

But I digress.

Laura had been a very keen runner and loved attending her local bootcamp twice per week. She went back to bootcamp after the birth of her first child. And she did more than many — she went to the instructor and said, “I have just had a baby and I don’t feel like my pelvic floor is very strong.”

And the response was more honest than most, as he raised his palm to her face and said “Whoa right there! I don’t do THAT sort of stuff.”

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And true to his word, he didn’t make any modifications or address her weak pelvic floor in any way, shape or form.

Laura, having been shut down, didn’t feel confident to bring it up again, but did feel confident that her Instructor had her best intentions at heart and did her best to follow the exercises given. Laura stopped attending when she found out she was pregnant with her second, child. Laura was half way into her pregnancy when she physically felt her prolapse.

And thus started her long journey of making the best of her situation. Because for the rest of her life, Laura will forever make decisions (like whether to have more children, how and when to exercise, how to carry out fairly mundane daily tasks), through the prism of her pelvic floor dysfunction.

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At mishfit, we focus mainly on women – but in general,  women make up around 63% of your fitness participants at the gym, outdoor bootcamp or general Personal Trainer. Having had one or more children is just ONE of the risk factors that make exercise-induced prolapse and exercise-induced incontinence a THING.

And damaging pelvic floor is not just a risk for women… men who push too hard and with inappropriate weight and/or exercise can damage their pelvic floor muscle as well.

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A damaged pelvic floor not only affects your urinary and faecal continence, create pelvic or back pain or lead to prolapse… but it can also affect your self confidence, your self esteem and even your sex drive.

I have had more than one woman say to me that they just can’t bear their husbands or partners to look at their vagina’s now, because of their prolapse and how it has changed the look.

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I believe SHAME about incontinence and prolapse is probably the MAIN reason why we don’t have more women going back to their trainers to complain or suing for negligence.

I think it will only be a matter of time before some trainers will hear these words:

“You pushed me to prolapse. You pushed me to wet my pants. It is not good enough that YOU DON’T ACCOMMODATE MY PELVIC FLOOR. You modify exercises for those in the group who have back pain or knee pain… why are ignoring a muscle that makes a whole lot of difference to my bodily functions!”

Fitness Instructors can no longer claim ignorance as their Get Out Of Jail Free card. While many women (and men) still suffer in silence, women are starting to speak out and pelvic floor dysfunction is gaining much more press coverage than it ever has in the past.

At mishfit it is our promise to you, that we have programs that are suited and /or modified to work with you and your pelvic floor. Our trainers have received education and training and fully understand how to work within their scope of practice.

If there is not a mishfit near you, then please take these questions to the trainer that you have chosen:

Are you a mum of small or gown babies_(1)

Because in a world of a zillion fitness options –  you CAN be picky, you CAN ask questions and DEMAND to see training qualifications.

Founder & Director of mishfit

Sessions vary from location to location – we have EVEolution (specific exercise & education program for postnatal women), other class types, Personal Training, small group training and Power Plate options.

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Comments
  • Maryann12 July 2016
    Reply

    Wow, if only I knew all this a few years ago. Why don’t our obstetricians tell us this ?. I’ve just had a vag hyster and posterior and anterior repair for a large prolapse. After each birth of my 3 children I went back to boot camp exercise and running. I had a diastisis and urinary Incontinance. I’ve always had lower back pain and lower hernia like pain in my abdo. No instructor cautioned me. It wasn’t until I actually could feel the prolapse between my legs I got the help I needed. We think we are doing the right thing by trying to keep fit, but the damage we are doing is life changing. I hope lots of young woman are hearing your message because this seems to be a silent problem we woman put up with. TALK ABOUT YOUR PELVIC FLOOR AND VAGINAS LADIES. Let’s pass on the message to our daughters to look after their lady bits!!!

    • mish12 July 2016
      Reply

      I think this is the value that fitness professionals can bring to the equation… we are not able to assess and diagnose… but we can listen and recommend who is best for you to see… a huge shame that not all health professionals think about the “whole” women and the diversity of movement and exercise she will be doing and get some good advice from the get go. Failing that, it would be even better if our Fit Pro’s also checked in with postnatal women and recognised their risk factors!
      Thanks for sharing Maryann, mish x

  • Taryn03 September 2016
    Reply

    Great post. I am just returning to exercise post baby number 2. I am making myself be very patient and ensure I recover well before returning to exercise which I LOOOOVE! I have had my 1st Womens health Physio check and been given the ‘all clear’ but am still forcing myself to be patient because I am all too aware of these concerns. If we are patient, we can return to exercise with full enjoyment in time. There is no rush to ‘bounce back’… which unfortunately there seems to be a little bit of a focus on….

    I LOVE that you are helping to get the word out there. Get that pelvic floor checked and exercise accordingly :)

    • mish04 September 2016
      Reply

      I love reading comments like yours Taryn… this is not a race… this is about caring for you for the long term. Mish x

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