How to know when to push through pelvic floor symptoms

When you have prolapse or other pelvic floor disorders, symptoms during your workout can be scary.

Instead of seeing them as a red light to all activity, let’s look at them as feedback instead.

So how do you know what those symptoms are telling you and how do you interpret when to push through and when to pull back? Let’s break it down 👇

What are your symptoms?

Ex: We don’t want to push through pain. That deserves a pause or at least an adjustment. Peeing, feeling that bulgy tampon feeling, heaviness, soreness, etc could all still be green lights though.

How long do the symptoms last?

A few hours, gone by the next day, or persist for a few days after your workout? If they only last for a few hours or are at least gone by the next day, that’s probably an indication that you’re leaning into your boundaries and challenging your pelvic floor. That can be a good thing. Your pelvic floor needs to be challenged.

But if symptoms are lasting for multiple days after your workout, that can be a sign that you either pushed a bit past what your pelvic floor is ready for for now, or the way you are performing the exercises may need to be adjusted. 

What’s going on outside the workout?

It’s not always the workout itself that’s the problem. Take a look at this (non-exhaustive) list of things that could be causing your pelvic floor to throw a fit when you lift.

  • Menstrual cycle – Ovulation, right before your period, and during your period are common times for people to feel a bit more symptomatic due to hormone shifts and position of the cervix. May feel good to decrease your weights or add in pelvic floor relaxation.
  • Pelvic floor tension – Are you always clenching your butt or sucking in your abs? Practicing relaxing this throughout the day.
  • Bladder irritants – Are you chugging Starbucks, Diet Cokes, and sparkling water all day? If you’re also leaking pee, it could be your consumption of bladder irritants and not necessarily your workout.
  • Stress – When you’re stressed and clenching your jaw, tensing your shoulders, or grinding your teeth, you’re probably also clenching your pelvic floor. All that extra tension can make your pelvic floor tired and just not up to doing its job. It can also lead to that bulgy feeling with prolapse.
  • Bearing down – Are you bearing down everytime you pick up your kids, cough, sneeze, yell, or sing? Learn diaphragmatic breathing to help expand your ribs 360 degrees and reduce the pressure down into your vagina.

What’s happening in your workout?

  • Are you only symptomatic with one certain movement? For something impact related like double unders, moving those to the beginning of a workout when your pelvic floor is less tired may help. If it’s a particular lift though, you may need to make some adjustments. Ex: changing up your squat pattern, not squeezing your glutes with leg work, or working on a better brace.
  • Have you done impact progressions or did you just start running and doing HIIT? If you skipped out on the progressions, you’re gonna need to go back to that.
  • Are you bearing down or holding your breath within the workout or do you know how to brace properly? The workout as a whole may not be bad, you just may need to learn how to manage your pressure better.
  • Are you following a progressive strength program or just piecing together swipe posts you found on Instagram? Random YouTube or Instagram videos probably isn’t going to cut it when you have a pelvic floor disorder. You need to progress in weight, movement type, and endurance (tempo) to help build your pelvic floor and reduce your symptoms. Ex: maybe you don’t need to cut squats out of your workout, but you need to do weighted squats to a box at a really slow pace first.

I know it sounds like a lot, but there’s no simple red light, green light list when it comes to managing pelvic floor disorders and symptoms. That’s because things like prolapse are multifaceted – not just a simple lift or pushing down of the pelvic floor.

If you’re trying to reduce your prolapse symptoms but feel overwhelmed by where to even begin, FIT for Women Plus is for you. Get the mobility, core and pelvic floor progressions, and strength programming you need to help you enjoy lifting (and living) again without worrying about your abs or vag.

If you want to take a deep dive on more core and pelvic floor topics, join my weekly Q&A email list. It may or may not also be the only place to snag a discount on programs. So run, don’t walk, to join.

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Hi friend! I'm Casey

I help people whose abs and vaginas are as cooperative as a 2-year-old at naptime return to lifting & living in a way that feels good again—and maybe even train them to behave along the way.

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Just because you have prolapse, diastasis, or pee your pants doesn’t mean you have to put away the weights. Get back to lifting without worrying about your abs or vag.