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Monday, November 6, 2017
Something hit me a few weeks ago after reading comments in a CrossFit mom Facebook group. During pregnancy and postpartum while chasing strength, we are only making ourselves weaker.
Both CrossFit and competitive CrossFit changed my life in so many amazing ways. I am beyond grateful for those experiences and the coaches that changed my life; it truly made me a better human. I did things I never imagined were possible.
However, pregnancy is an entirely different beast and requires a completely different mentality. Listening to my OB and my coaches just wasn’t enough. OBs are not trained in evaluating pelvic floor muscles and nerves. And, unfortunately, most CrossFit coaches are not aware of the pre and postnatal considerations. So, like many women today, I just couldn’t see outside of the CrossFit bubble, and I had no clue about pelvic floor physical therapists.
As a result, CrossFit moms go into pre and post pregnancy with the same mentality as before, and this is creating a lot of harm in the community. Pregnancy and postpartum has turned into a competition to see who can do the most and/or who can have the quickest comeback. Messages about “listening to your body” and “doing what you have always done” are hurting many because that just isn’t enough guidance when it comes to the pelvic floor and the complexities of pregnancy.
I have recently read comments in the CrossFit mom groups that are making me more and more concerned. For example, one mom stated, “I recovered so quickly because I was doing CrossFit up until 40 weeks.” Being active and healthy is always a good and can definitely help with recovery. However, it also largely has to do with genetics, what happened during delivery, and what you during 4th trimester and beyond. The misconceptions about how we heal postpartum are concerning.
What concerns me the most are comments like these. Women in the community are….
- So scared to be weak that they are straining their bodies during postpartum when they are the most vulnerable and prone to injury
- Joking about peeing themselves so they don’t have to modify certain movements
- Pushing through pregnant pelvic pain so as not to look wimpy
- Going hard on workouts at 6 weeks postpartum because they are “cleared” and were “fit” pre pregnancy
- Ignoring advice because they may feel like they are above it because they are “fit”
- Posting videos of themselves at X amount of weeks doing squat cleans at X amount of weight with bad form but feeling proud they can still do the movement Rx
- Climbing ropes at 20 weeks pregnant and encouraging others to do the same if they “feel fine”
- Looking for ways to diet at 1-2 months postpartum while breastfeeding
...and the list goes on.
I am not criticizing these women because this used to be me on a few of these things. However, we need to spread awareness about this issue because women are not getting the right guidance within their communities. And, well, my heart hurts when I read this stuff.
The transition to motherhood is intense. I instantly gave up a career and a competitive CrossFit life. None of this was easy for me, and we all crave our former identities before embracing our new one. However, all of those postpartum years of chasing strength, only made me weaker in so many ways.
In order to regain that strength I had to learn how to….
- meet my own self where I was at
- be okay with lots of modifications
- workout to heal, not prove that I am tough or to feel strong
- choose sleep over the workout sometimes so my body could heal
- change movement patterns and habits I have had for years
I feel this has been another test, and I will rise as the strongest athlete that I have ever been. I want each and every Crossfit mom out there to have a better experience than I did, but we need to change the message, culture, and information provided. It is no small task. Please help me spread the word.
**Please follow me at my NEW blog site called "Helping is Healing" at lisaryan22.blogspot.com**
Monday, April 10, 2017
Anyone that knows me, knows I have been Crossfitting for a really, really long time. I don’t plan to stop. I love it. However, as in anything in life you need to question and be critical of the things that you love the most.
Lately, there has been a lot of push back in the CrossFit community against the "if you work out, you will hurt your baby." This is great and very much needed so people can stop being afraid when they see a pregnant lady working out. It can be scary for people that haven’t seen that before. I get it. These things are all relative. Keeping my heart rate down might look different than someone else, just as a weight that is light for me might look heavy to someone else. However, with all of this focus on the health of the baby one important thing has been missing…..
What happens to all the Crossfit moms that don't end up happily every after like the mom featured in the latest CrossFit Journal video?
Somehow we only hear the success stories. There are glorified videos of moms doing Crossfit pregnant. Moms trying to one up each other or compare what they can do compared to someone else. Then that turns into how fast they can get back in the gym and continue doing said glorified exercises. These stories of women recovering fast are only part of the story. So what happens to all the Crossfit moms that don't follow this storyline?
In the past two years of trying to find answers and fix my extreme case of Diastasis Recti (abdominal separation), I have found a graveyard of CrossFit women silently suffering with prolapse, incontinence, diastasis, umbilical cord hernia, and other pelvic floor complications. They are either embarrassed that they can’t keep up, feel like they failed, or are just clueless on how to get help because of the lack of information. I found that I am not some random abnormality. And, after my own traumatizing experience, I just cannot let this continue any longer. Women need the whole picture. All of the information. THEN they can choose what they want to do during pregnancy and postpartum.
Pelvic floor health and pregnancy are very individualized and complex, so you cannot just blindly follow one person’s story and think that will also be your own. You must find your own way. Additionally, just because you avoid certain exercises during pregnancy and postpartum doesn’t mean you’ll be problem free. However, with the right information, you can find your own way much easier. For example, when I was pregnant with Chase I had no clue about Diastasis Recti or pelvic floor health in general. If I had, I would have avoided certain exercises knowing that I was already at risk (big baby with a short torso). I also would have implemented some breathing methods, alignment considerations, and loads of other strategies that I have recently learned (Check out Julie Wiebe, PT and Brianna Battles, MS, CSCS, USA W). In fact, some people in the CrossFit community even made fun of me for avoiding certain exercises when I was pregnant with Chase and this was before I had the information that I have now. Why is pregnancy a competition to see what you can do? Why can’t we just move and be healthy for baby and for mom’s health? As I “listened to my body” for many months, I just made my Diastasis Recti worse. Listening to your body just doesn’t always work in this case.
For those of you that saw the former CrossFit Games athlete jumping on a really high box at 32 weeks pregnant, the reason I wrote that cryptic, angry post on Facebook was not because I was worried about her baby. Well, okay, it did freak me out but hey- Her body. Her baby. Her choice. The jump looked effortless for her. Not worth the risk in my opinion but 100% her choice and like I said before - it is all relative. My issue is that Crossfit HQ just posted it there to stir the pot while also looking like they promote a type of pregnant competitiveness that isn't healthy for women. Where is the pelvic floor health information about jumping? Where are the interviews with pelvic floor physical therapists on the CrossFit Journal? I want more. Not just interviews from female coaches that were pregnant themselves and then coached some pregnant women. The scope is WAY more than that. CrossFit is not in expert in this area. Let’s talk to the pros.
We desperately need to break the silence and open up the conversation with moms struggling postpartum. And, no, I am not talking about starting some crazy fear mongering. In fact, it is just the opposite! When you have all the information, it is actually a lot less scary! But we need moms to be making educated choices along with feeling like there is hope if they experience incontinence and/or a weakened core with a protruding stomach. Let’s weigh the risk vs reward in all we do pregnant and postpartum. I did CrossFit almost my entire second pregnancy, it just looked different than the first.
At this point I stop and ask myself: do I want to do this because I just want to do the movement OR will this actually help my healing process? It is hard to reign it in. I get it! However, we need to set a healthy mentality for others to follow. We need Crossfit HQ to set the right example. We need moms to speak out and help support each other. We need coaches to get educated on how to guide these women. We need to encourage women to seek physical therapy* as soon as possible.
As Brianna Battles always says. “ Pregnancy is temporary, Postpartum is forever.” I am now finally embracing my journey of healing. It may take longer doing it the right way, but I will be much stronger for it.
*This is tricky because not all physical therapists understand the athletic demands of CrossFit. Shop around before you settle in with one particular physical therapist. I highly encourage you to check out everything Julie Wiebe, PT has written :) I have seen some terrible PTs before I settled into one I trusted. :(
**Please follow me at my NEW blog site called "Helping is Healing" at lisaryan22.blogspot.com
Monday, May 9, 2016
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Big Tummy updates for those that are interested or going through your own journey of healing after giving birth. This is long...and conversational.... For a few days, I totally believed I would need tummy surgery, and wouldn’t be able to pick Chase up for 6 weeks. The first doctor (sports doc) I talked to that actually KNEW what diastasis recti was told me I wouldn’t be able to support another baby without the surgery. Because he was the first doctor to actually address the issue, I believed everything he said. I posted on Facebook to get surgeon recommendations, and I had more doctor appointments for more opinions scheduled but not for a few weeks. As the next few days went by I started to calm down and gather more information. I found moms through my mommy facebook page that have had the surgery, but I found most of them waited until AFTER they were done having kids. Many told me they tried PT only to find that the gap just wouldn’t close. I also found another woman who had a 6 finger gap and healed it back to a 3 finger gap in 18 months. There were so many kinds of stories out there. While small gaps are common (most don’t even know what it is or how to heal it), larger ones certainly aren’t that rare either (I found a lot of women online dealing with issues similar to mine). However, with so many different stories out there, I still didn’t know what to expect with my particular case. I called my lactation specialist who was my angel the first few months with Chase. I couldn’t have breastfeed without her and valued her opinion. She told me to breathe and that I could have a baby whenever I wanted to and that I just might have to wear a girdle to support my belly (which I did with the first pregnancy anyway because my belly was HUGE). She said I am super strong and my body can definitely handle it. Okay, that isn’t so bad….still more info to go... In the meantime, I am trying to get a damn script for PT. I wanted a freaking physical therapist to look at me and see what he/she thought about it. You would think I was trying to get a script for vicodin.
I called the OB office, and they refused to give me one since this was a post baby issue. The sports doctor refused to write me a PT script and told me if could heal this on my own then he would write an article about me. I went back to the primary care doctor I saw. She told me originally that they “don’t do that” for DR since nothing is “wrong.” She did tell me after I saw the surgeon she recommended to me to call back if I still wanted the script. Okay, great….. I’ll have a surgeon feel around in there and see what they say. I called the surgeon’s office, and they don’t want to see me without a CT. A CT???? I mean sure if I NEED a CT I will get one but can’t someone just FEELING MY F@#$ING STOMACH and give me an opinion first? If nothing is “wrong,” why do I need a CT? The hunt continues…. Next up...I had TWO really good PTs recommended to me that specialize in women issues, and they both knew the size of my gap and STILL wanted to see me. There was hope! I realized that I might need surgery but why not at least TRY to do it on my own or at least get an OPINION from someone that works with muscles all the time. With shaking hands, I called back the primary care office and asked for the script….I had to wait a day to see if it went through and it did. Thank goodness. I met my PT. She really knew her stuff, and she also had been Crossfitting for 6 months and loving it. This helped because she could tell me what to do/not to do at the gym. For the most part I was on the right track with my Crossfit modifications- that was good news! I left the first appointment hopeful but realistic. She said she can’t make any promises but that we could try a few things. 1) she did some muscle release and massaging of my c section scar. The problem was that my abs were in the wrong place AND they were really strong and tight (so they weren’t moving). 2) She gave me some more intense stuff to do than the MuTu program I was doing at home. Basically, I squeeze together my fat, skin, and rectus abdominus muscles and do a slight sit up using my transverse abdominus. I started just barely lifting my chin but now she has me actually lift up my shoulders. I do this a few times a day. Next up...an appointment with my old gynecologist (she doesn’t do deliveries anymore). She is amazing, so I had to wait 3 weeks to see her but it was well worth it. She knew what DR was and was so calm and helpful. The good news was I didn’t have a hernia (which was my other big concern- that would be surgery for sure). She told me to continue PT and see what comes of it, but she also suggested I also talk to a surgeon. She gave me the name of a plastic surgeon that is excellent but will not pressure surgery if it is not needed. Also, she said since my back hurts that he will be able to get the insurance to cover it (the other thing I was freaking out about). The most important news..I can have another baby whenever I want (not that we are ready yet). Another piece to the puzzle…and no surgery for now. Whew! I scheduled an appointment with the surgeon anyway just to gather more information for the future. Well, I guess I should give the sports doctor a call back because…. my gap is down from 8-9 fingers to almost a 1. Yes… ONE!!?? I still can’t believe the progress that I had made in less than 2 months going to PT twice a week. The PT was beyond thrilled and called in other PTs to come check out this crazy story. And no one thought PT was going to do anything, huh? I canceled my appointment with the surgeon for now, anyway. Along with seeing the PT this is what I do each day: ~doing my special sit ups a few times a day ~lots of perfect planks ~I wrapped my stomach during the day for awhile. Now that I have healed my PT has told me to stop doing this since my abs are functioning better and she wants them to gain strength again. ~using PT tape on my stomach (see pictures). First, she did the cross taping, but now that I have healed more we just do the 3 strips across. ~still doing some of the MuTu exercises. Why not? anything that can help! ~laying off lifting heavy at the gym (staying moderate weight), no sit ups, no kipping pull ups, ring dips, or hspus (only strict in these movements), burpees on my knees, no T2b, no o lifting...doing extra KB work (sub this for barbell a lot of the time) and lots of lunges and squats! (Now that I am pretty much healed I get to slowly go back to doing all of these exercises which is so exciting for me. My PT is monitoring my every move :) ) ~sitting up straight. This is way harder than you might imagine if you don’t pay attention to it. I don’t even sit that much during the day since I am not back to work yet…. but when I am sitting in a chair feeding chase, or sitting on the ground, or typing this blog… you better believe I am sitting up really damn straight. ~ no heels ~ I also just weaned completely, which I personally thinking helped me heal as my hormones re-regulated themselves. ~positive attitude Even at a 1, my stomach still sticks out from extra skin, trauma, and who knows what else. I am trying hard to accept this, and it isn’t easy as no amount of working out and eating clean (which I do anyway) is going to make this better. So, I will post the pictures here in hopes that other moms are learning to love those post-baby bellies too. It sure as hell isn’t easy, but Chase is sure as hell worth it. You have to advocate for yourself and fight hard for answers. Everyone that has DR, whether it is a 2 finger or an 8 finger, is going to have a different experience with the healing process along with other possible complications. However, there is not nearly enough education about this out there at ALL. Please pass along this information to any mothers you know. Both the during and after of my next pregnancy will be so much different with the knowledge I have gained. Stay tuned ;) This is with 8-9 finger gap before I started this process. I posted this in my last blog.
Monday, February 9, 2015
diastasis recti by Brianna Battles!! Please send this around!!!!! I wish someone sent this to me before/during my pregnancy!
Friday, January 16, 2015
MuTu program at home each night, looking to the Breaking Muscle recovery plan exercises to help me modify the WOD each day at Crossfit, and following Brianna Battles and her “Everyday Battles” blog. The night I sat down to start the MuTu program I listened to the introduction video and all the symptoms of DR and CRIED!!! I had every. single. thing. she. described! I may have been alone at home, but I have never felt in better company! FINALLY, someone was talking my language. FINALLY, it all made sense. And with the next kid (God willing) l will be prepared with a better recovery plan! I'm grateful for the competitive mindset that I have learned from my Valley Crossfit family for the five years I was in LA. While that mindset helped me be a great local and regional competitor, it translated to my everyday life. I made a plan to move forward and kick this DR! Even though I will miss the feeling of maxing out on lifts and will have to wait a little longer to get my muscle up back….. it will be a new and different kind of journey that will allow me to learn even MORE about my body and in the end, when I do make a full comeback- it will be just be that much sweeter. ****Please forgive the conversational writing, grammar, and typos. I am a tired momma :) ****