The Weightlifting Librarian – Pelvic Physical Therapy and Lifting Weights

So I am fortunate enough to have a very special guest for this blog post.  Katie Montague, aka “The Lifting Librarian”, is an elite level Olympic weightlifter currently completing her graduate coursework at Rutgers University.  I have had the pleasure to known her since our undergraduate studies together at Stockton University, formerly the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.  Besides lifting weights and enjoying reading manuscripts in the library, she also runs her own blog at TheLiftingLibrarian.com.  In this interview, Katie is going to discuss her experience with Physical Therapy as a high level, competitive athlete.  

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Mark:  So Katie, could you tell us about yourself?

Katie: Hi, guys! My name is Katie and I’m 24. I met Mark while completing my undergraduate degree in Literature at what is now Stockton University. It was during that year transition from working out of college to last September when I began my graduate degree for a Master’s in Information with a focus in Library Science, that I began my weightlifting career. Over the last year and a half, the sport of weightlifting has helped shaped me into who I am today. For that, I am forever grateful. I am currently on the job hunt for all things library and archive related. Unfortunately, I can’t afford to work part time at the Princeton Theological Seminary Library and lift and coach forever. Growing up, sadly, is going to be a part of my near future, but I think I’m ready!

 

M:  What piqued your interested into Olympic weightlifting? Books and weightlifting seems like an interesting combination.  

K: Like so many others who’ve made their way into the weightlifting sector, I was first introduced to the lifts through CrossFit; however, then, I hated the Olympic lifts. I skipped the days when they were programmed and I made little effort to enjoy them. My coach, owner of Absolute Strength Gym, encouraged me to enter into their Sinclar Total (body weight to pounds lifted) unsanctioned meet, in memory of their weightlifting coach who had passed away that Christmas. I reluctantly agreed. And I won. By a lot. We realized I should continue with this, that I really had a chance to be great one day. Ya know, in like five years because that’s how long it takes to develop a great weightlifter. Good thing I’m a patient person 🙂 or at least I’ve grown patient since my journey began.

 

M:  I hear you have earned yourself the nickname of “The Lifting Librarian”.  Could you tell us a little about that?

K: Right before leaving for Senior Nationals in April of this past year, I was interviewed by New Journey Channel 2 news. After the reporter asked what I was studying. It wasn’t until the piece was aired that they mocked me: “New Jersey has their very own Weightlifting Librarian. Interesting mix.” It’s really interesting actually, the weightlifting community is really diverse. So many lifters are incredibly intelligent possessing Master’s and Doctorate degrees. And so many are incredibly dumb. Maybe there is an easy medium?

 

M:  What have been your experiences with physical therapy prior to your olympic lifting career?

K: When I was a senior in high school, I tore my ACL in a lacrosse scrimmage. I was in intensive physical therapy for four months before leaving for field hockey preseason at Stockton University. That’s where I met Mark. I continued my intensive session with their athletic training program until the Spring semester.

I have been lucky enough to remain healthy long after my knee issues. However, I am currently being treated in physical therapy again. Since September, I have been working very closely with Inner Dynamics Physical Therapy, a pelvic floor physical therapy office in Oakhurst, NJ. Tamra Wroblesky, my physical therapist and co-owner of the practice, is the reason I am still lifting today.

The squat is absolutely vital in weightlifting. If I can’t squat, it’s impossible to complete full lifts.

M:  When did you start to feel that something was “off?”

K: In early August, I began feeling sharp pains near my coccyx when squatting. The squat is absolutely vital in weightlifting. If I can’t squat, it’s impossible to complete full lifts. I felt this excruciating pain while squatting and when lifting from the floor.

I never would’ve guessed that this pain was stemming from my pelvic floor. The body is incredible.

M:  What made you start to seek help; particularly pelvic physical therapy services?  Did you know that physical therapists were able to help you out?

K: I was coaching a CrossFit beach WOD for local gyms in the area towards the end of August when I ran into an old friend who just graduated with her physical therapy degree. After explaining the symptoms, she recommended Inner Dynamics as she just finished her clinical with them. Had I not seen Lisa Ricker, who knows how long I would’ve dealt with this pain before discovering the source. I had stopped the full lifts for almost a month at this point, I was seeing a chiropractor and doing research and we continued to emerge empty-handed.

Mark also recommended physical therapy as I used to have problems urinating during heavy cleans, but I never would’ve guessed that this pain was stemming from my pelvic floor. The body is incredible.

 

M:  How has your experience been with a physical therapist who specializes in pelvic health? Is it helping you get back to lifting heavy and staying competitive?

K: I took it easy until November, a month prior to the American Open. It took about three months to lift to 80% strong and pain-free. The American Open was a coming back meet, of sorts. Tamra has done a great job of working with me so I am able to continue to lift through the physical therapy. She’s even made visits to the gym during my recovery to ensure that I’m moving and bracing properly.

 

M:  Before you were first treated by a Pelvic PT, what did your expectations for your first visit?  What surprised you the most?

K: Honestly, I had no idea that a pelvic floor physical therapist was a real thing. I was unsure of what to expect, only that Lisa said internal work was probably necessary and that I would be painful. She was correct.

 

M:  I’ve heard that your PT also does CrossFit; how has that influenced your care?

K: Tamra does CrossFit-type workouts to stay in shape for hiking and climbing. She’s reached the summit of multiple mountains across the world.

So many females pee while lifting/jumping. I’ve never had children. I’m 24, and I’ve been peeing my pants during physical activity since I was 14. It’s not ok.

M:  Do you think that pelvic health is an issue in the Crossfit/weightlifting community?

K: YES. So many females pee while lifting/jumping. I’ve never had children. I’m 24, and I’ve been peeing my pants during physical activity since I was 14. It’s not ok. There are people who are trained to help. Countless women who’ve given birth and who haven’t pee during double unders, box jumps, front squats, and cleans. The issue is that we’re not taught how to brace. The pelvic floor is a muscle, it can be healed and strengthened like any other muscle. Learning how to properly brace and use those muscles is key.

I would tell them it’s necessary to go. It changed my life. The way I sit, the way I brace, the way I lift.

M:  Would you like to say anything to someone who is considering pelvic Physical Therapy? Would you recommend it to your friends who are have the same or similar issues?

K: I would tell them it’s necessary to go. It changed my life. The way I sit, the way I brace, the way I lift. This process has been extremely difficult for me as I have been spending the last six months relearning how to move and lift. I’m relearning how to work through positions in the correct way. It’s no longer about getting the weight up. It’s about doing it correctly, using proper muscles. I don’t lift to be the best today, I’m lifting to be the best in four years. The body is complex, it will take time.

 

M:  Any final thoughts or words you would like to say?

K: In so many instances, physical therapy can be utilized to help resolve issues that we may not even know we have. Be open to help and body movement. Movement is medicine. I’m proof. In October I was unsure I would be able to lift at the American Open. Thanks to Tamra, I was healthy enough to lift. Even with so much time off, I managed top ten. I’m continuing therapy for prevention as the last six months were so difficult and we work weekly to ensure that I stay healthy.


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Thank you so much, Katie for answering questions about your experiences with physical therapy.  I wish you the best of luck with your future endeavors and look forward to seeing you on the platform winning gold one day.  Just remember the little people when you make it big!  


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A special shout out to Dr. Tamra Wroblesky.  Be sure to check out her at Inner Dynamics Physical Therapy: Pelvic Health and Wellness Center in Ocean, New Jersey for your Pelvic Physical Therapy Needs.

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