It all started when I posted a not-so-humble brag that I had deadlifted 170lbs.
Well, back up. Maybe it started when I ordered the Fancy Bra for Curvy Women that facebook and other social media bots kept throwing at me. It came with a bonus pair of underwear, which somehow led me to their “leakproof panties.” Spoiler: that stash of one bra and two bikini panties arrived in a seriously overpackaged box, provoking a full wave of climate change anxiety, and the bra didn’t suitably contain my boob flesh . Also, I may still be menstruating at the age of 54, but I don’t really need to start experimenting with new period products, do I? It’s this kind of reckless impulse purchasing which also led me to purchase a cross-body bag in the middle of the night because I saw Meghan Markle carrying it on her South African tour when I couldn’t sleep. But I digress. (And it’s a great bag).
So there I was, lying in bed, body still tired from my 170lb deadlifts the night before (did I mention the deadlifts?), scrolling through FB and innocently clicking on a link to a Guardian article for today’s dose of gloom and doom. And there it was.
Peri fit. The perfect toy for middle aged ladies: a vibratory thing you put in your vagina and squeeze, to strengthen your pelvic floor, tracking your progress by how quickly you manage to race a little car around the track on the phone app. (I think you can also squeeze to lift a little butterfly too).
If this whole scenario doesn’t say Peak 2019, I don’t know what does. (Well, maybe if it came with avocado toast. I heard a guy in a coffee queue the other day talking about his avocado delivery service where you get three at a time, in different stages of ripeness, one for today, one for tomorrow, and one for the next day. But I digress again).
Actually, now is probably a good time to show you the avocado toast I ate as a snack before I deadlifted 170lbs. Super yummy. I love my neighbourhood.
Okay, so leaking. So after I got the ad for the app for leaking middle aged ladies, I posted something on FB about being Indignant that The Algorithms didn’t recognize my superlative fitness, instead categorizing me as a sagging bladdered aging woman.
And oh, the response!
Turns out, the 170lb deadlift may have TRIGGERED the ad. Many people showed up to let me know that heavy lifting can *cause* incontinence in women. (And another friend, a pilates and alexandra technique teacher, messaged me to let me know my form was off in the lift and I was tucking my tailbone too much. But again, I digress).
Women who lift showed up to share their links and stories about peeing during workouts, and their workarounds. (I didn’t actually ask for that, but okay!) Sam noted that she had written about this a few years ago,
So okay. Was that imperfectly formed but still impressive 170lb dead lift a bad thing to do for my bladder?
Well, it depends. Apparently, lifting weights CAN strengthen pelvic floor muscles. And it looks a lot more impressive to post on instagram than chasing a butterfly around a screen with my vagina.
But — it can also strain them. (The long list of things to avoid there is, like, everything I do, three times a week).
The bottom line seems to be — yes, stress incontinence and pelvic floor prolapse (urrg) can indeed be caused by weightlifting (for women AND men).
Pelvic floor strengthening exercises — either good old fashioned accessory-free kegels, or tech-assisted routines like the racecar app thingy and these cute little vaginal weights — are all good things to add to your roster.
So I literally had no idea about any of this when I picked up that 170lbs. I guess I should be grateful to the AI ad trolls and my super smart friends for making that link for me. Thanks Kindly Bot Overlords! (And thank god I have those leak-holding underwear now!)
So here is my friendly PSA to the world, from one of those links: If you leak urine while exercising, consult your healthcare provider as soon as possible. Leaking urine is common, with one in three women experiencing UI at some point in her life, but it’s not normal.
Meanwhile, I wrote to the maker of the butterfly thingy and asked for a trial version to test it. For you all. The things I do for this blog.
Stay tuned for an upcoming post on vaginal atrophy!
Fieldpoppy is Cate Creede, who squeezes and lifts in Toronto. Here is the 170lb deadlift. Critiques of form are welcome.