It’s a pleasure to introduce Michelle Wright (a.k.a., Mish) of mishfit. She is a long time advocate for women’s health, so much so that she founded the Women’s Health and Fitness Summit, now in it’s fourth year. Enjoy this insight into training women and please note the upcoming Summit details below. Take it away Mish…
Are you aware of the three distinct differences between men and women when it comes to Training?
If not, you risk losing your client to someone who does. Or worse, you risk causing harm.
1. Anatomical differences.
This may seem obvious, but let us be blunt. Women have an extra opening at the bottom of their pelvis. Unlike the sphincter muscles that close the urethra and anus, the vaginal opening has no such mechanism. Women rely on their pelvic floor to keep their uterus, bladder and bowel in the right place.
Placing unnecessary strain on the pelvic floor with compromised posture, inappropriate weight or not accounting for intro-abdominal pressure can lead to damaging this small muscle.
Damage to the pelvic floor can cause incontinence (both urinary and fecal) or worse, prolapse – where these organs literally fall out of place.
2. Hormonal differences.
Women have changing hormonal status both in their monthly cycle and their life cycles, including pregnancy, postnatal (pregnancy postnatal) and menopause. These hormonal changes have a direct impact on the muscle function. Learning when is the best time to increase weights and maximise the hormonal impact on strength gains is vital to the periodisation of programs for your female client.
Similarly, it’s important to appreciate when hormonal changes make your client most at risk of injury.
3. Post-natal is for life.
Women are often given this label while their baby is young. However, pregnancy changes a woman’s body and certainly her hormonal system (see point 2) until she goes through the next hormonal shake-up… menopause. With each child, the risk factor of prolapse increases.
Every postnatal woman needs to have her abdominals checked before resuming to exercise. Diastasis (or DRAM) is when the rectus abdominis pulls apart via the linea alba (directly down the middle of the tummy). This occurs in up to 60% of pregnant women and has direct implications on exercise programs.
If a split has been identified, it is important for a Trainer to help repair with exercise, rather than make it worse. Diastasis can have an impact on pelvic and back pain, core stability and pelvic floor function.
Postnatal women are not always checked by their GPs or any other Health professional post birth.
Many mums may not even know the implications that diastasis has on their exercise routine. Perhaps you have heard them complain of a pouchy tummy, that no amount of exercise or diet has been able to shift? Being ‘diastasis aware’ may be the key to improving your client’s outcomes in more ways than the just the ‘look’ of their tummy.
Learning how to check for diastasis and modify exercises to suit is an essential skill for any trainers’ toolbox.
Understanding your client’s body, asking the right questions, providing the right information and modifying exercise programs to suit will set you apart as a Trainer.
All of these issues and more will be covered in the upcoming Women’s Health and Fitness Summit on the 28th and 29th of October 2017. Not only is this a great learning opportunity, it’s a chance to network with fellow fitness professionals and a broader community of allied health professionals who share your female client base.
The Women’s Health and Fitness Summit is bringing together some of the world’s leading educators in women’s health.