Once a month, women are more susceptible to injury when lifting. That is because once a month, women go through a hormonal cycle. What many don’t realize is that during this time the ability to contract our core and brace for a lift can be extremely difficult. Hormones can throw many things out of wack and the pelvic floor’s ability to contract is one.
As a female powerlifter who competes yearly, there is great emphasis placed on proper form as well as paying attention to what goes on in and out of my body. When I was instructed to see a pelvic floor physio, it was brought to my attention just how important the pelvic function can be. The pelvic floor is a muscle and just like every muscle in the body, as much as you can contract it, at some point you must relax it. Many females can have issues with either or and possibly both!
In videos you will see me lifting with a belt for heavy weights, but I do not rely on my belt to find tightness! The belt is an accessory that gives you the outside reference of being tight in a lift, but the most important form of tightness is having proper INTERNAL core function. This means first and foremost, getting those transverse abdominals, internal obliques and pelvic floor to fire.
Having the body awareness to contract the pelvic floor when setting up for a lift, can enhance your ability to produce power and strength. As a woman, the hormonal cycle can make the contraction of the pelvic floor quite difficult due to levels of inflammation, but it is no excuse to stop lifting. I’ve performed many Nationals smack in the middle of my hormonal cycle and had to find ways to manage the symptoms. Symptoms are different for everyone.
Bloating is the occasional one I get and the belt in the video below, allows me to show that to you. As you can see, I am bloated above and below the belt.
What I hope you take way from this short blog is to place an importance on proper core function and do not neglect the pelvic floor. Core tightness is NOT achieved by holding your breath, bracing down or using a belt – it is getting the transverse abdominals, obliques AND the pelvic floor to function properly.
The more you become self aware of your month to month symptoms, the more ways you learn to manage them in order to still perform.