Chasing Strength is Making Us Weak

Something hit me a few weeks ago after reading comments in a CrossFit mom Facebook group. During pregnancy and postpartum while chasing strength, we are only making ourselves weaker.

Both CrossFit and competitive CrossFit changed my life in so many amazing ways. I am beyond grateful for those experiences and the coaches that changed my life; it truly made me a better human. I did things I never imagined were possible.

However, pregnancy is an entirely different beast and requires a completely different mentality. Listening to my OB and my coaches just wasn’t enough. OBs are not trained in evaluating pelvic floor muscles and nerves. And, unfortunately, most CrossFit coaches are not aware of the pre and postnatal considerations. So, like many women today, I just couldn’t see outside of the CrossFit bubble, and I had no clue about pelvic floor physical therapists.

As a result, CrossFit moms go into pre and post pregnancy with the same mentality as before, and this is creating a lot of harm in the community. Pregnancy and postpartum has turned into a competition to see who can do the most and/or who can have the quickest comeback. Messages about “listening to your body” and “doing what you have always done” are hurting many because that just isn’t enough guidance when it comes to the pelvic floor and the complexities of pregnancy.

I have recently read comments in the CrossFit mom groups that are making me more and more concerned. For example, one mom stated,  “I recovered so quickly because I was doing CrossFit up until 40 weeks.” Being active and healthy is always a good and can definitely help with recovery. However, it also largely has to do with genetics, what happened during delivery, and what you during 4th trimester and beyond. The misconceptions about how we heal postpartum are concerning.
What concerns me the most are comments like these. Women in the community are….

  • So scared to be weak that they are straining their bodies during postpartum when they are the most vulnerable and prone to injury
  • Joking about peeing themselves so they don’t have to modify certain movements
  • Pushing through pregnant pelvic pain so as not to look wimpy
  • Going hard on workouts at 6 weeks postpartum because they are “cleared” and were “fit” pre pregnancy
  • Ignoring advice because they may feel like they are above it because they are “fit”
  • Posting videos of themselves at X amount of weeks doing squat cleans at X  amount of weight with bad form but feeling proud they can still do the movement Rx
  • Climbing ropes at 20 weeks pregnant and encouraging others to do the same if they “feel fine”
  • Looking for ways to diet at 1-2 months postpartum while breastfeeding

...and the list goes on.

I am not criticizing these women because this used to be me on a few of these things. However, we need to spread awareness about this issue because women are not getting the right guidance within their communities. And, well, my heart hurts when I read this stuff.

The transition to motherhood is intense.  I instantly gave up a career and a competitive CrossFit life. None of this was easy for me, and we all crave our former identities before embracing our new one. However, all of those postpartum years of chasing strength, only made me weaker in so many ways.  

In order to regain that strength I had to learn how to….
  • meet my own self where I was at
  • be okay with lots of modifications
  • workout to heal, not prove that I am tough or to feel strong
  • choose sleep over the workout sometimes so my body could heal
  • change movement patterns and habits I have had for years

I feel this has been another test, and I will rise as the strongest athlete that I have ever been. I want each and every Crossfit mom out there to have a better experience than I did, but we need to change the message, culture, and information provided. It is no small task. Please help me spread the word.