Are You Intentionally Breaking Yourself?

I attended a workshop last weekend to learn more about Hypropressives and Low Pressure Fitness. I'm sure I'll be writing more about those techniques soon, but today I wanted to focus on something that ruffled my feathers while I was there.   By now most of us have heard about the increasing cases of women wetting themselves during workouts, especially in those workouts that require heavy weightlifting, like barbell squats, deadlifts, etc. But it turns out that what should be seen as an embarrassment and a symptom of a problem is turning into just the opposite. The physical therapist who was leading the workshop mentioned that she has a few weightlifting athletes, mostly who are engaged in CrossFit, who are using the term "puddling" proudly as an intensity marker for their workouts. Such as "I lifted so hard today that I totally puddled". What!?!   Then I was talking to my own weightlifting coach last week about  pelvic floor health, and she mentioned how appalled she was at the number of female weightlifters at the national level who are simply letting go during competition. Not just a few drips or wet undies, but full-flow streams coming out during the lifts. My coach has been a part of USA Weightlifting and competing with the USA National team, and explained that even 10 years ago this wouldn't  have been acceptable. You would address it, just as you would any other injury that you might sustain during training.   And that's what got me thinking - Why are We Intentionally Breaking Our Bodies? Because really that's what we're doing when we ignore incontinence and even celebrate it.  

Let's look at it this way

How would you react if you saw a teammate blew her knee out during training? If you're like me, you'd be really concerned, try to stabilize the knee, get them ice, and offer to drive them to the doctor or call 9-1-1.  If your teammate blew you off and tried to get up and lift the same amount of weight again, you'd probably yell at her and ask her to stop.   Or, what if you meet a friend for coffee and she comes in limping severely. You ask what happened and she proudly tells you that she PR'd her last race and knows that she went all out be she blew her hammy, because everyone knows that blowing out your hamstring is a sure sign that you gave it all you had. She's smiling and mentions that she's looking forward to her next training session tomorrow.   These are extreme cases, but I think you get my point. We could also bring it "down" and  use tendinitis and mild strains as examples. My point is that when we're dealing with other orthropedic injuries that result as a part of our training, we usually pay attention to the sign and scale back our training until we can fix the weakness and strengthen the foundation to allow us to train at 100% again. SO why aren't we doing the same when it comes to our pelvic floors? Why are we ignoring the symptom (leaking as opposed to pain), instead of acknowledging that we are pushing our bodies way beyond its limits to the failure point of this system? Why are we celebrating injury and actually encouraging others to hurt themselves?   I know a lot of our resistance comes from our fear of being told that we have to stop. Stop lifting, stop running, stop playing, and stop living the lives that bring us joy. If this is you, and I want to be the first to tell you that it's not the case. Can you continue on as you are right now? Nope, but you wouldn't be able to continue training at the same levels with any of the other injuries either. But that doesn't mean that you can't continue training while we heal. If we start thinking like the athletes we are, and training like them as well, then we start to understand how the recovery process only helps us get stronger.

The key is to balance our recovery and training plans.

If we are actively working to heal an injury, then our plans will be heavier in rehabilitation work while maintaining our sports conditioning through a modified program. As we get stronger and rebuild our foundations and function,  we start transitioning back to a more traditional training program for our sports, supported by recovery and rehabilitation work to keep us healthy and lessen the change of pain and injury recurring. I call these offsets. How fast you progress through these RE-Boot stages depend on the level of injury, your dedication to the training plan, and your patience in returning to play at a higher level. Sometimes we move too fast and it causes our conditions to flare. No problem, we just know that we've hit our current breaking point. For example, I was working on my snatches last week and testing my strength level with them. I got to a point where the weight was higher and I was getting fatigued. I had to bail on the lift, and when doing so I leaked. Not a lot, but I felt my pelvic floor fail… and that was my sign. It was my sign that I'd hit my high point for now and needed to go back and do some more core-specific training in order to continue making progress on my lifts. Because I can tell you that my legs and back can handle more weight, but my core and pelvic floor (an essential functional unit for all sports) cannot. I'm still lifting, but I'm just not adding on more weight to this specific lifting. I'll be working on technique and using functional supplemental exercises and offsets to focus my strength build in my core and posterior chain. Make sense?  

It can be really difficult to accept that you need to change your training plan

But in order to address an injury or weakness you have to make a change to make gains in the future. To do so is an indication of your maturity as an athlete, and your dedication to your long-term success in your sport, and not just the in the moment wins.   If you're ready to start training for your long term success, be sure to join my new MoveHealPlay Monthly Training Club. Each monthly you'll get the tools and resources you need to create a well-rounded program that keeps you training pain-free and dry! Plus, connect with other athletic women and the me, so we can help keep you on track for realizing your goals!

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