Imagine this for a science fiction thriller…
A microscopic parasite is injected inside of a young woman and, over the course of 40 weeks, presses up against and kicks her main internal organs and grows to a whopping 8 pounds…all while feeding off of her body. Then, unannounced and throughout a painstakingly 24 to 48 hour process, it slowly rips and tears itself out of the host’s genitalia, requiring emergency medical care to ensure the host’s survival and overall well-being.
If you haven’t figured it out already, we’re not talking about some alien sci-fi situation…we’re talking about childbirth. In this anecdote, we will discuss how blood flow restriction training helped a new mother regain her sense of self and navigate the dark waters of postpartum physical and mental recovery.
This athlete was a 31 y/o female (…obviously) high school teacher who had a passion for exercise. While she has competed in a powerlifting meet a few years back, her goals as of recent have been to simply build a strong, athletic, and aesthetically pleasing physique with a focus on overall health and resiliency. She enjoys strength and hypertrophy focused weight lifting, running, kickboxing, barre, and even a little Crossfit. She was starting to try to have a baby and wanted to be astrong, positive female role model in the life of her children. She also wanted to do everything she could to have a healthy pregnancy and delivery.
(Reader discretion is advised. This section does not hold back. It gives the reader a very real perspective on postpartum recovery.)
Labor and delivery was a challenge for sure, but both our athlete and her newborn baby girl made it through with no red flags or serious complications! Our superstar mom was in labor for about 20 hours and pushed in the delivery room for 2 hours and 30 minutes. She suffered a third degree tear, which means the tear involved her perineal muscles and anal sphincter. Her tear was stitched up immediately and she nearly needed a blood transfusion from the amount of blood she lost. She also developed debilitating pain from hemorrhoids, which felt like being stabbed in the rectum with every movement.
So here she was…a once active, vibrant, fitness enthusiast…now a scared, dependent, sleep deprived, new mother unable to get out of bed without help. She had searing pain with every movement as well as constant fear of re-opening her stiches. Simply the urge to relieve herself brought on a wave of anxiety because urinating and having bowel movements were excruciating. How was she supposed to be discharged from the hospital in a day and a half, function on her own, AND take care of a newborn baby? Exercise, she thought, was clearly a thing of the past because she couldn’t fathom ever returning to the gym. Just the first of many sacrifices her body will inevitably make for her new child, she thought.
Fast forward 3 weeks…sleepless nights, stress, change of daily activities, and countless dirty diapers were now a regular part of her life. Basic activities of daily living were improving and she was able to go for short walks outside without pain. She was very happy with her progress, however she would get a twinge of despair whenever she would remember the sound of weight plates clanging together or the feeling of muscles burning. Still, she couldn’t imagine ever returning to those things.
At the 6-week mark, she was cleared to return to exercise, however had no idea where to start, both mentally and physically. Her OBGYN didn’t give her much guidance, so she was on her own. Luckily, she was aware of the importance of consulting with a physical therapist and the impact it could have on her return to exercise. Her PT built a solid therapeutic alliance and understood her as a person, not a diagnosis. Her PT called the OBGYN and got the green light to initiate some light resistance training, including BFR. Blood flow restriction training, her PT thought, would be a great way to give our new mom the feeling of “working hard,” get her muscles burning, and elicit a training effect while limited to lighter loads by her OBGYN.
Our new mom was hesitant at first, but she decided to give it a try since she trusted her PT. It ended up working out perfectly! They started with single joint movements and progressed to bodyweight squats. She was hooked! She was almost brought to tears on multiple occasions. She was back! She was in the gym, working hard, and living that life again when she’d nearly lost hope. Our mission at the BFR Pros is simple:
To Make Our World A Better And Happier Place!
We do this by using our skill as Rehab Professionals and Strength Educators to make a positive difference in the lives of people by helping them accelerate their recovery back to the activities they love or by helping them optimize their performance in the quickest way achievable.
Stories like this explain how, when used in combination with a strong therapeutic alliance and proper programming, BFR training can help fulfill the mission. We can make a difference and we can be leaders in our field, but we need your help! Spread the word! We’re here and won’t stop until our job is done. Who’s with us?
Are you ready to meet the growing demand as a Confident BFR Provider?
Be sure to check out our engaging 4-hour On Demand On-Line BFR Training course right HERE
Our course is for both Rehab and Fitness professionals and will provide everything you will need to overcome the three hurdles for successful BFR Training and help guide you to become a Confident Successful BFR Provider.
****Remember, the use of BFR training should not be based solely on a success story. The decision to use BFR, or any treatment for that matter, should be based on the pillars of evidence-based practice.