When it comes to weight lifting for someone with pelvic floor dysfunction you’re doing one of the following:

  1. You either avoid it because you have pelvic floor dysfunction.
  2. Or you lift weights regardless of your pelvic floor dysfunction because you want to be active and not let anything stop you.

In fact, it is not uncommon for some women to leak, sitting in a puddle of their urine, while lifting. Of course, this is at a more competitive level but it is considered ‘normal’ which is far from the truth. This blog is about the reason why weight lifting regardless of gender, when done wrong can make your pelvic floor dysfunction worse, how pelvic floor dysfunction is not just urinary incontinence, and how to address pelvic floor dysfunction so you can lift weights without making the matters worse.

What Is Pelvic Floor Dysfunction?

If pelvic floor dysfunction was the name of a book, it would have many chapters one of which is urinary incontinence! I recommend reading the blog I wrote about pelvic floor dysfunction for a deeper understanding. Now, there are quite a few symptoms some of which will surprise you as subtle signs of pelvic floor dysfunction. For a full list and explanation of different symptoms in detail check out my other blog.

When you look through the list below, you will see some of these symptoms and signs are easily considered  as separate issues. But, if they had been addressed correctly, they would not lead to pelvic floor dysfunction.

  • Lower back pain
  • Pain in the back joints of the pelvis (SI Joints)
  • Pain in the front pubic area
  • Arched lower back
  • Slouched lower back
  • Slouched mid-back or hunchback
  • Military posture with the chest pushed out
  • A V-stance where the torso is positioned behind the hip joints on the side view
  • Chronic forward neck
  • Inability to bend down below the knees
  • Habitually standing on one leg with the other leg bent
  • Chronic one-sided pain in the lower extremity
  • Hip pain on one or both sides

What Is The Right Way To Lift Weight?

Weight lifting can be safe but knowing that your goal in how much weight to lift is incremental is not to everyone’s liking! We tend to set unexpected goals without paying attention to our current abilities. Building the potential to lift more comes over time, but there are clues to pay attention to.

The principles of movement cannot and should not be broken. The mindset of achieving a goal is honorable but when it disregards our current potential, it becomes damaging and something(s) have to give. The principles of movement are not secondary to the number of reps and sets, or the amount of weight you want to lift. They are the linchpin for all exercises, weight lifting or not.

The following are what make our workouts and athletic performance outstanding and their compromise only leads to injuries, discouragement, and quitting!

  • The trunk or torso is the stabilizer and the upper and lower extremities are the movers
  • The spine is to stay neutral and shoulder blades need to stay on vs away from the trunk
  • All muscles within the trunk are not to be used as a part of arm or legs task
  • Arms and legs muscles do not perform the tasks related to the trunk
  • Breathing biologically is an absolute must
  • The moment an exercise compromises the above principles, it is time to stop
  • Do exercises more often than one long session at the beginning


Learn Proper Form From Babies

This baby is keeping all the principles discussed without stressing. Look at the straight plank vs the side plank that the legs are doing. The neck is pulled straight up without looking up and the arms are performing the arms’ job.

Baby doing both push up

Below, Michael Jordan is following the same principles! His legs did the job of getting him high off the ground, his torso is nice and square, and it is the arm, not the arm and shoulder blade that is throwing the ball. Look at his neck pulled back without his head looking up.

Michael Jordan throwing the ball

If you are thinking this has nothing to do with weight lifting, you are mistaken! The same principles apply to ALL sports and when broken, create injury and damage. If you have not been aware of these points, start today and work your way up incrementally. It is not going backward but creating a safe and brilliant forward performance. If you have pelvic floor dysfunction, however, you still need to take care of it so does not become a set-back.

What Is The Full Treatment For Pelvic Floor Dysfunction?

According to the blog, ‘Are Yoga Exercises Good for Pelvic Floor Dysfunction’, the following is the holistic and comprehensive approach to treating pelvic floor dysfunction:

  • “Behavior modification, which is always part of the solution list to all issues (your behavior about life changes how you do everything in life), is not going to correct any dysfunction fully but addresses some of the feeders of the problem.
  • Postural Neurology: Movement is like a concert and the body parts are like the musicians. The musicians not only need to know their part but to know when to chime in and phase out. That means the pelvis and pelvic floor need to know how to ‘play’ with the rest of the body if they are to sustain their strength and integrity. This is what Postural Neurology is all about.
  • Functional Movement: Common sense says that the most authentic way to move is the way babies move. After all, all babies from all over the world go through the same developmental stages of movement (Developmental Kinesiology) which means that we are hard-wired to move that way. So if the issue is movement-related or supported, then we should see how we compare to the way we moved as babies. All discrepancies are then highlighted and can be corrected through Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization (DNS) exercises which are baby movements.
  • Kegels? There are machines like the Emsella Chair that do 400 Kegels per minute involving all of the muscles of your pelvic floor and not the ones that you hope to be engaging. Note that Kegel exercises are not for all types of incontinence and pelvic floor muscle issues.
  • Breathing is what babies do automatically! And that is what we need to do in order to sustain the bottom of the breathing apparatus, the pelvic floor!
  • Internal manual work which ideally should be done to assess the muscles inside the pelvis BUT does not have to be done in all cases.
  • Nutrition:  Avoid Citrus, caffeine, soda, artificial sweeteners, and spicy foods. Take collagen, Vit. C, Vit. D, Omega 3, and protein if no conflict with any other conditions.
  • Ergonomics: Sit on an exercise ball vs a chair. Get a keyboard that is as wide as your shoulders. Limit your sitting to no more than one hour and alternate with standing. Make sure the middle of your monitor is at eye level to name a few.
  • Postural Awareness: It is important to pay attention to the posture and catch yourself when not standing on both feet, slouching, or shifting the pelvis forward and in front of the ankles. Best to associate the increase in attention with activities done each day; for instance, when talking to someone to pay attention to the feet and pelvis positioning.
  • Sleeping habits: do not sleep on the stomach and if you are a stomach sleeper, to get a body pillow to minimize that.”

If you suspect pelvic floor dysfunction or are not happy with your current treatment, do not hesitate to contact me.

Dr. Shakib

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