Why listening to my body wasn't enough.

I’ve been at a physical therapy course all weekend for pregnant and postpartum women. It’s been a great course and I’m excited to not only use the knowledge in my practice, but also connect the dots for the followers on social media.

Before becoming pregnant, I didn’t have much knowledge of training during pregnancy, despite my background as a PT and CrossFitting for quite a few years. I was told many different things by those around me, healthcare providers and the internet/apps. Some said to not let my heart rate get over a certain number. The most common theme was continue doing what I had previously done and just listen to my body. Besides that, there was no guidelines. CrossFit had put out a two page sheet on recommendations for scaling/modifications for specific movements, and that was the extent of resources I found/had.

Growing up I participated in various sports and activities, but was mainly a middle to long distance runner in cross-country and track in high school and college. As many other athletes and runners, I suffered from my fair share of injuries. I also think many athletes, especially at the high school and collegiate (and younger ages), are more likely to “push through injury”. At that age, we’re not really looking at the “big picture” and living in the moment- we want to play or run or whatever, and not let down our team, coach and school.

So we’ve learned to and it’s become engrained to push through fatigue, discomfort, ache, pain, etc. Because “it’s not that bad”. We really should never push through pain with exercise or any movement/activity. With patients/clients, I try to differentiate for them, “bad” pain is not something we want to push into or through. We never want to push into pain or any other symptoms with pregnancy. I see and hear about women continuing to do movements despite having pelvic/pubic/back/whatever pain. Please don’t!!! Pushing into pain can cause increase risk of injury and/or increased severity of injury and/or other injuries/dysfunction.

Most people have learned to push through discomfort. Pregnancy can be a lot of discomfort, weird/strange feelings. Our body is doing things that are out of our control and possibly things we’ve never experienced before. These things may not necessarily be painful, so many women will continue despite discomfort or weird sensations. During my pregnancy, I personally experienced times when some movements felt uncomfortable or “not right”. They were sensations I could easily push through, but luckily around that time I had my virtual consult with Brianna, who helped me with mindset regarding exercising.

Listening to my body was not enough. My athlete brain would tell me to continue or push through because something didn’t hurt or wasn’t “that bad”. Athlete brain is still something I struggle with on a daily basis to some extent. Luckily, I have surrounded myself with like-minded women (join Brianna’s FB group here) and have started trying to create a culture at our gym and with my patients/clients/followers of quality over quantity, risk vs reward mindset.

Instead, I recommend to pregnant and postpartum athletes to seek out knowledge and information. I HIGHLY recommend seeking out a coach who specializes/has experience with this specific population and a pelvic floor PT- check out my resources tab for links to find these individuals. You may have an amazing CrossFit coach or personal trainer- but that’s not enough. My husband is extremely educated- certified Athletic Trainer, masters in kinesiology, CSCS cert and CrossFit L-2, but despite all of that education, he was not provided with sufficient knowledge on the changes and demands placed on the body during pregnancy and postpartum.

Don’t rely on your athlete brain to guide your during this time- it doesn’t know and understand the changes your body is undergoing. Find support, gain knowledge and take a look at the risk vs reward.