You are a woman – PLEASE read this!!
When I qualified as a personal trainer back in 2006 I was just that – a personal trainer. I had never really thought about training women differently and how we move, how our hormones can affect us.
I was never told that maybe we should be training differently from men, especially at different times of the month, during pregnancy, post birth or in the menopause. My training courses NEVER mentioned anything about this and from what I believe still don’t really differentiate that much today.
Luckily for me, many friends were having babies and asking me what they could / should do – I didn’t really know but started researching it and there were basically ‘sod all’ courses or information for training new mums! I searched and finally found Jenny Burrell – the now Burrell Education (https://www.burrelleducation.com/) – it changed my life and my career.
Basically, thank you friends as it has been the best thing I have ever done (apart from getting married – obviously!!). It has given me knowledge I am proud to have, it has made me see the importance of just listening to the woman/women I have in front of me. It has given me a passion to really help, educate and support women at ALL stages of their life. To ensure they exercise safely, to get strong mentally as well as physically and importantly for them, to know it is ALL RIGHT to NOT be the thinnest or fastest – strength comes from within!!
I’m a Women’s Health Trainer
So what does that exactly mean?? It means I look at the whole picture ladies – your mind, stress, sleep as well as your energy levels, your nutrition and then what exercise you are doing. For women, one of the 1st things I will check is ….
How are you breathing?
There is now so much information on the different forms of breathing – how to breath for relaxation as well as for the pelvic floor health and tummy health. When I meet someone for an assessment I watch how they breath, what their posture is like (so the diaphragm can move) and then I will check their tummy and put hands on them to see if they are breathing to support or put more pressure on the pelvic floor.
Any lady – even young athletes, can have pelvic floor dysfunction – maybe from over training and ‘holding on’ all the time. Many may be running and leaking and ‘wee wee weeing myself home’ so they hold onto the pelvic floor even more, but without knowing it, causing it only to get tighter and then for that person to leak even more!
So, there is a reason why I talk about the breathing & the pelvic floor in all I do. I will often say to a new mum who is back running before she is 10 weeks post birth
“You may ‘feel’ fine now and feel your C section scar has healed or you only had a small tear but it is what is going on internally that you can’t see of feel. You may not have any problems now, but you may well do at a later date – when we start losing estrogen and muscle strength.”
In don’t want to be a spoil-sport as mental health is a massive area for women and we all want to be doing things that make us feel better. I totally understand the urgency women feel to get back to the sport they love. Ladies, you WILL get back to your sport – running, climbing, hockey, rowing etc but be nice to your body, start from inside out and build up gradually!
Sometimes – if you just slow down, focus on the small things, breathing, relaxing, eating well and gradually building back up – after childbirth, an operation or injury or hysterectomy – then you may even get back stronger than before!
I see a lot of menopausal women. Having never had problems with stress or urge incontinence, they are suddenly weeing themselves when coughing. I am seeing more who have a prolapse or have faecal leaking. It is SO hard for that woman and if I can just help her, along with the women’s health physios, then I will. By teaching them the best breathing techniques to take pressure off their pelvic floor, that is one step to supporting them.
Therefore, look at women’s health training as the whole picture – rather than it being all about losing weight,. How about changing your mindset – how can I get strong as I age, how can I support my body in the sport I love, as I age.
With more body awareness, breathing awareness and really taking care of your body and pelvic floor – then yes you can carry on exercising, of course!!
You only have one pelvic floor, so look after it!