"Should I use a weightlifting belt??"
Have you ever asked yourself this question in the gym? I know that I have. I know I've been taught before to NEVER use a weightlifting belt or external tools to aid in lifts (not true), and so I've been cautious to use accessories in the gym because of what I've been told before.
While we can't rely on a belt for lifting, two of the main reasons to use one is to increase intra-abdominal pressure and stabilize your core, while also increasing the activation of your back muscles. Using a belt IS SAFE, but you want to make sure you're using it appropriately (not sure? ask your friendly neighborhood PT! 🙋♀️)
What to consider when thinking about using a weight-lifting belt, especially postpartum:
-- Do you have leaking with heavy lifts or strenuous activity? If so, the use of the weightlifting belt might increase the leaking, because it increases your intra-abdominal pressure by ~10%, so it may not be the best choice right now
-- Have you had recent abdominal surgery or a recent C-section? The weight lifting belt may or may not aggravate your incision, so it's important to be mindful of the healing process here.
-- Do you struggle with using the Valsalva technique (often referred to as "bearing down"), and bracing when lifting? Using a weightlifting belt is not meant to replace your body's natural ability to brace its core, it's meant to be an addition to the strength you already have. If you struggle with core strength, it's important to work on that first, so that you can get the most use out of a weightlifting belt later.
If you answered yes to any of the questions above or you've had a recent pregnancy, reach out to your favorite pelvic health therapist to help you reach your goals!