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If you’re training women, you’re probably vaguely aware that you need to be careful when loading their abs or pelvic floor when you train them. However many of us assume that if they don’t complain, they’re fine. Today we want to discuss what you’re looking for, specifically, which can flag a further issue down the track!

If you’d like to go deeper in to this, you can do our FREE Course on The Art of Screening Women here.

If the load is too much on the Abdominal wall you will see or hear about:

  • Doming – this is when the rectus abdominus pulls flat (as it is supposed to), but the linea alba cannot withstand the intra-abdominal pressure generated by the exercise, and you get a funny shaped bulge between the abs. If you don’t know what this looks like, we do a whole session on it in our Live Virtual courses.
  • Ballooning – this is when the abdomen fully distends, and is common if the client was taught a “belly breath” in yoga, and got in to the habit of doing it all the time. Every time they breath like that, they are stretching their abs and linea alba, putting their core integrity at risk.
  • Funny shapes – if the abs simply don’t look “right”. I once found a separating in a client because one side of the abs ballooned and the other side went concave in a TRX Hip Drop. It simply looked ODD. So i re-checked her abs and voila – separation. We went through our 6-Step Core Restore Process over the following months, and she’s since had a second child, with no back pain!
  • Back pain – speaking of back pain. Chronic back pain, especially lower back, is a gigantic red flag that there’s something going on, and a referral to a Women’s Health Physio is necessary.
  • Posture – if they can’t keep good alignment, you’re training what you see, and it’s too much.

Much trickier is the Pelvic Floor, because you cannot see the dysfunction right away, and the client can’t always feel it. Here are some indications that your programming is too much load on the Pelvic Floor, but as always, if something isn’t “quite right” – refer!

  • The client runs to the toilet – if they’ve been training and suddenly run to the loo. Suspect pelvic floor.
  • If they always do a “just in case” wee – suspect pelvic floor dysfunctions.
  • They openly admit that they leak – you usually have to ask them, but once the conversation has started, they’ll be able to tell you what makes them leak and what doesn’t.
  • They fart – this happens a lot with post-menopausal women! A fart is no big deal but it is a symptom.
  • They release air from their vagina – otherwise known as a fanny fart, there were some positions in yoga that made it happen for me! Having an open, honest, and comfortable discourse on these issues will add enormous value to your client’s!
  • Ballooning of the belly is often seen when the client is “bearing down” on their pelvic floor, and rarely seen when they’re “lifting up” – suspect dysfunction!
  • Intense “gripping” of the abs, butt, or squeezing the knees together – all are over-compensations, attempting to hold the pelvic floor or pelvis stable, but not always successful in that endeavour. Sometimes they’ll ADD downward pressure for the PF to withstand. Suspect PF dysfunction.
  • A sensation of heaviness or bulging – the client won’t always know that those sensations are a problem, so you’ll probably have to ask. It will happen in some positions but not others, so you’ll have to check regularly. Knowing the skill of Intrinsic Core Synergy, that we teach in both Pregnancy and Post Natal Exercise and Wellness can often resolve this problem, or go a long way to controlling it.
  • If the client is pregnant, overweight, post-menopausal, or is a Mum – suspect dysfunction! The act of being pregnant is enough to stretch the pelvic floor, especially if they were athletic at any point in their fitness history. A physio screening preferred in any case. You can look up your closes women’s health physio here.

I have said it a million times, but we are in the business to change lives and make a positive difference – make sure you are achieving this by knowing what issues affect your clients and screening for them!