Common advice is to stop doing the exercise(s) that is causing you pelvic floor symptoms.
This sounds reasonable, yes? Seems like the responsible and safe approach for people to adhere to. In fact, it IS reasonable and responsible and safe in many cases. There will be bodies and situations where this advice is warranted.
But, it’s missing the mark for me.
It’s far too simplistic. Far too limiting. And, frankly, not critically thinking enough about the body, or our role as coaches and trainers.
I get it. I’ve said it countless times myself. For me, this is an example of where I’ve changed my thought process over the years, as I continue to work with more mamas with varying experiences, and be pushed by mentors who are forward thinkers.
Modifying Over Omitting
My work is primarily in strength and conditioning based exercise. I coach hundreds of pregnant and current moms around the world on a weekly basis, in my To Pregnancy & Beyond training programs.
We modify through 40+ weeks of prenatal workouts and years of postpartum fitness training. There is pelvic floor dysfunction present. We have to adjust based on symptoms, circumstances, and goals.
One of my guiding mantras in the way I coach is modifying over omitting. How can we keep this person doing this activity without taking them from it, or it from them?
When possible, where possible, if appropriate.
If someone is experiencing incontinence during squatting or deadlifting, can we modify before we change the exercise entirely?
What happens if…?
Generally, this is my approach if a client is experiencing dysfunction symptoms such as pain, leaking, bulginess, etc. Pick something to adjust. Start there.
“What happens if you take the weight down ____lbs?”
“What happens if you start your exhale breath as you push your feet into the floor at the bottom of the deadlift?”
“What happens if you shift your weight a bit more forward into your toes?”
“What happens if you reset after rep #3, take a full deep breath, and then resume your reps?”
So much of this is play. Testing. Tweaking. I don’t know what’s going to work for that person. I have tricks up my sleeves, and we give them a go, but it may be something completely out of the blue that resonates with a client.
In this particular exercise, at this number of reps, with this much weight, on this day of the week.
Coaches and health professionals:
Let’s continue to do our due diligence in specific client scenarios, and expand our coaching skills before we write off total movements for people.
For the fitness enthusiasts:
Have hope! Always. We want to help you do the activities and exercises you love. If something doesn’t feel quite right in your body, trust that. But, do know that we can often turn to modifying without omitting. Jess
For strength training workouts that encourage you to keep lifting with confidence through pregnancy and postpartum, download your free 4-week Bands and Bells fitness program!