Recently Clare spoke to The Carousel on being a Personal Trainer after having babies – a laid bare account of how being fit and strong before babies does not immunise you from common changes to your body as a result of being pregnant and giving birth. You can read the full article here. Contrary to popular belief, personal trainers do not necessarily “bounce back” after babies, and in some cases they can make things worse.
Some trainers head back in to exercise, believing that because they’re strong they are the exception to common post natal training guidelines. Pelvic injury will not necessarily be an acute injury, but one that creeps up over time. For example, if you have a stretched pelvic floor (from being pregnant – even C Section women have stretched pelvic floors!!), and perform exercise that continues to stretch it (eg. running, trampolining, some cross-fit manoeuvres), over time that pelvic floor will lengthen so much it cannot hold your bladder closed or organs in. This could be years down the track, or during menopause.
Other trainers may come back conservatively, but BECAUSE they’re so strong they can continue overloading the deep core in a negative way. For example, someone with super-strong abs gets a cough. When they cough their abdominal contraction is exceptionally high because they’ve got really strong abs, which means the pelvic floor has to be equally as strong to meet the intra-abdominal pressure created when we cough. The stronger your abs are, the stronger your pelvic floor has to be to prevent leaking or prolapse (imagine an upside down water bottle with the lid only half on, now squeeze the bottle – what happens to the lid?).
However, very few athletes or personal trainers that i know train their pelvic floor with their abs before having kids. In my experience, most people start pelvic floor training when they start having symptoms. By this time the damage is done and their pelvic floor training will be ongoing, for the rest of their lives.
I feel that there is an opportunity for coaches of female athletes, personal trainers, and gym instructors to coach the deep core to match the strength of the superficial core before having children is even on the agenda. After all, if many female athletes are already incontinent at University level competition, what is having kids going to do to that already weakened structure?
So no, personal trainers are not immune to deep core dysfunction, and may, in fact, be at a higher risk of it because of their mental approach and existing physical strength.