One of my clients suffers from polycystic ovarian syndrome. She is very lean with the exception of her abdominal area. While I am aware that this is just one aspect of her condition, do you have any training suggestions?
Before going into specific exercise tips, it would be helpful to briefly review polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), it’s causes, symptoms and associated risks.
PCOS is an endocrine disorder found in five to 10 percent of all women. Insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia have been shown to be factors in the development of this syndrome, given that it causes an overproduction of androgens. Newer, hopeful treatments focus on the insulin problem, opposed to past treatments that focused on androgen imbalance.
- Lack of ovulation
- Inconsistent or cessation of menstruation
- Weight gain (mostly in the abdominal region)
- Excessive body hair
- Balding patterns
- Cysts on the ovaries
- Darkening of the skin around the neck, underarms and breasts
Associated risks include an increased risk of developing a number of other health condition such as:
- Type II (adult - onset) diabetes, if insulin levels are not controlled
- High cholesterol and triglyceride levels
- Cardiovascular disease, if insulin levels are not controlled
- Endometrial cancer (cancer of the uterine lining) due to lack of menstruation
- Reduce excessive stress in the exercise program. Many exercise programs that include bodybuilding techniques (fixed machine training) overstress local areas. This is a non-functional means of load application!
- Utilize a light, whole body approach.
- Strengthen patterns that are associated with everyday movements. Examples:
- Body weight squat (concentrate on core control)
- Front squat with a medicine ball (see the osteoporosis article for a description)
- One-handed loaded squat (hold a dumbbell in one hand, and squat)
- Split stance squat (imagine picking up an object from the floor)
- Standing one arm pushing exercises
- Standing one arm pressing overhead exercises
- Standing one arm pulling exercises
- Functional core exercises
- Isolated core exercises (if necessary – based on reviewing this pathology this may be necessary)
- Example: 4 point abdomen draw
Many of the exercises listed are described in alternate articles on PTontheNET.com. Here are questions that will help you to determine whether these exercises are right for your client:
- Does the exercise improve balance?
- Will the exercise allow for natural range of motion?
- Can my client control the load application (free weights offer a different resistance than tubing, cables)?
- Can my client maintain good postural alignment?
- Will the exercise enhance proprioception?
- Will the exercise enhance postural strength?
- Is the exercise challenging multi-planes?
- Is the exercise strength able to transfer over to real-life?
Remember, design an exercise program that strengthens the body for life. If life movements are stressful, your client is in a continual state of over training. Many traditional exercises will NOT accomplish this goal. Associate exercises with movements, not muscles.