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Can strength training & stabilising your lower back help with the symptoms of Endometriosis?

A fair percentage of my female clients suffer from endometrial type symptoms. Endometriosis and its associated issues is a normal part of a women’s menstrual cycle. It's a part of the physiological function of a woman. Inflammation is a very natural part of that process.

What isn’t a normal part of the process is an excessive amount of pain. Some women, many of my clients, have experienced extreme discomfort. So, what are some of the leading ideas and what does conventional thinking has to say on this? What are the main causes on endometriosis and how has our medical system dealt with it for the women we all know.

Endometriosis is when a layer of tissue similar to the internal lining of the uterus occurs outside the uterus. For some females this can result in significant pain. (note: some woman may not experience any symptoms despite the tissue).
Currently the only way to have a diagnosis confirmed is to have a biopsy via laparoscopy. The sample of tissue is then tested. Other ways may exist, but these fall outside of conventional treatment.

So why is this topic worthy of our time? Well we have had some really interesting results with some of our female clients. These are clients with a history of severe period pain. They haven't sort us out to be treated through exercise, but we have seen results from exercise. I am certainly not suggesting we have found a diamond in the rough here.

What I can say quite confidently is that training has had an impact. For many the decline in pain during their monthly cycle has been greatly reduced. In the case of some of my clients, it has not reoccurred. The observation has been for those clients doing “The Back-Pain Solution Program”.

In the early days of my career I may well have interpreted this as a positive coincidence. The aim was fixing the reoccurrence of ‘back pain’. That, and the associated symptoms was my primary concern. Seeing a reduction in discomfort during their monthlies was just a welcomed by-product.

So, how do I make sense of what is occurring? I can only hypothesize from client feedback. That, and my extensive experience with back pain treatments. These are the things I noted:

  1. A clear majority of the women affected would say that they had weak cores. This was prior to the program commencing.
  2. Back pain was regular enough that they wanted to do something about it. In some cases, it was considered severe or constant.
  3. As they gained strength over the course of the program, a reduction in symptoms was noted.
  4. Improvements in posture were also achieved across the board.
mri-1
mri-2

The science babble!

Let's look at a case study:

The MRI image on the right highlights the abdominal content of a female client. She has completed The Back-Pain Solution, a 12 week program. She has experienced a noticeable decrease in pain during her monthly periods since. It’s worth noting that she felt her abdominal wall firmed up significantly during the program. Also, it continued to stayed firm throughout the day not just when stimulated from exercise.

(MRI notes, ‘Yellow outline’ abdominal content that has collapsed onto itself. ‘Green rectangle’ the space that organs of the abdominal should be present in. ‘Red line’ the collapsed abdominal wall, as MRI was taken whilst lying down. The image to the right of MRI displaying the area the organs should be located in.)

In the MRI that was taken before her program commencement, we can see the following. Not only does she have an L4 L5 disc bulge, but most of her abdominal content has collapsed. For example, her transverse colon and small intestine. These are resting on her bladder and uterus. Little wonder that there's very little space for anything else. Particularly that once inflammation sets in! This is my point: the inflammation starves the uterus of blood flow and oxygen resulting in a cramp or spasm. It forces the individual to move themselves into a position that eases the pressure. One that allows circulation to return! It all makes sense when you think about it.

The male equivalent of the uterus is known as the prostate. Guess what one of the leading causes of death in men is? That’s right, prostate cancer! If men had cycles of inflammation guess what they would be complaining of?? Yep lower abdominal cramps!

Prolonged stress on any part of the human anatomy results in abnormalities. Sometimes these abnormalities lead to cancer. It all depends on the severity of the individuals' situation.

As I mentioned earlier, we haven't found a magic bullet. What we have learnt is that abdominal / core weakness and back pain have some similarities. Through exercise, our back-pain program, we have been able to ease this pain. A strong stable pelvis and core equal no pain.

Author: Paul Van Haltren

Paul has been specialising in the treatment of bad backs for almost twenty years. He is the Head Coach & Founder of PVH Fitness and the creator of 'The Back Pain Solution'.