I cannot count the number of times I have heard something like "pregnancy ruins your body," or "this getting old thing really (sucks)."
Or "when I turned (insert age), everything fell apart!"
I'm not going to argue these points because, well, one can obviously find some truth there.
But I do want to offer you a different perspective...
The Threshold of Dysfunction
There are injuries and medical emergencies that cannot be prevented. Let's take for example a c-section scar or a perineal tear during birth.
These are issues that can certainly create problems that were not there before, especially in the pelvic floor.
But many problems arrive from habits and dysfunctional movement patterns that were present long before you were symptomatic.
Even in the case of a perineal tear, it's possible someone had the habit of bearing down long before the perineal tear, but the tear pushed them over the threshold of dysfunction, compromised the pelvic floor, and suddenly they are dealing with prolapse, pee leaks, and back pain!
Movement Pattern Dysfunction
Our bodies are incredible. If we want to do something but we don't have strength in the muscle group that would normally be required, we will get the motion from somewhere else.
For example, if you decide you want to start running, but you get all of your hip extension from your low back, that's not going to suddenly change once you hit the trails.
No, you will likely use your low back to move you with every step. This might be okay for the first few months, but then one day your low back muscles have had enough and your are sent into a spasm that leaves you bedridden for days.
To make it worse, you might just get your pelvic floor involved, trying to stabilize your faulty movement pattern, and suddenly you are constipated and dealing with hemorrhoids as well.
Our movement patterns do not change unless you are intentional in your diagnostics and rewire your brain to fire what should have been firing all along.
Although there are some circumstances where simply being active helps activate key muscles groups, this often takes a skilled clinician to help you find the underlying cause of your movement dysfunction and coach you through the rewiring process.
This doesn't mean your can't go out and start running today... not at all! This just means we need to be listening to our bodies and acknowledging any symptoms that arise before they get severe.
The longer we compensate for an injury, the more layers of compensation we add on, and the longer it takes to unwind the movement dysfunction.
This is another reason why seeing a physical therapist for wellness visits can be critical to preventing serious injuries.
How To Prevent a Movement Dysfunction
Technique is key when lifting, running, squatting, or transferring baby gear.
One way to help prevent the development of movement dysfunction is to have very high quality coaching in your activities, that will help you to know if your are doing actions correctly.
This is also incredibly important in youth sports, which are our formative years, and movement compensation patterns developed during this time can linger and takes years to unwind.
Seeking out high quality physical therapy following ANY injury is key to unwinding movement dysfunction and compensation strategies.
Toughing out injuries will lead to compensation patterns. Pain and inflammation is a sign your body is asking you for something, do not ignore it!!!
Finally, preventative therapy can help heal asymptomatic movement dysfunctions. I am a huge advocate for prehab for pregnancy to help unwind any issues that are present even before you get pregnant.
The feeling of compounding injuries is often the result of longstanding, chronic issues that have reached a tipping point.
This is not to scare you, but rather empower you to take preventative action early on.
Staying active, not powering through aches and pain, and being dedicated to finding the underlying WHY of your issues is key to healthy pregnancies, as well as a healthy aging process.
Physical changes such as pregnancy, and aging do not have to cripple us. It's never too late to start unwinding your movement dysfunctions!