Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hello there! I’m Karla, a lifelong athlete, mama of two little humans, and lover of the great outdoors.
Professionally, I am a sport physiotherapist with a special interest in pelvic health. I work with athletes of all levels and abilities – from recreational to the Olympic athlete.
I have been active my whole life, playing multiple sports throughout high school and university. I played NCAA soccer for 4 years and continue to play competitively into my adult life. Being involved in sport has shaped the person I have become. It has given me confidence, resilience, and work ethic.
In my life now, exercise and sport has shifted into the goal of lifelong athleticism, not just for the known health benefits but for the joy it brings me. I want my two children to see that exercise and sport can last through their lifespan. It doesn’t and shouldn’t stop at a certain age. I want them to have a love for movement that starts in childhood and continues into adult life.
As a sport physiotherapist I have worked in a number of high performance settings with Canada Soccer and Hockey Canada’s national women’s programs. I have travelled to multiple international world championships and major games as the team physiotherapist, including:
IIHF Women’s World Championships (2012, 2013, 2016),
Canada Soccer CONCAF Qualifiers for London Olympics 2012,
Women’s Soccer – Guadalajara 2011 Pan Am Games,
A major highlight was being the lead therapist for the Canadian Women’s hockey team in Sochi 2014 Olympic Games.
At the moment, I provide in person physiotherapy services to athletes locally in London, Ontario, as well as offer Strength & Conditioning consulting from a virtual platform worldwide. I am also a sport & pelvic health consultant for a number of National Sport Organizations here in Canada, providing pelvic health education to national level athletes.
What is an issue or topic you are passionate about or would like to see changed?
I am very passionate about pelvic health and its role in high performance sport. A lot of times, the athletes I am working with don’t fully understand their body and how pelvic health is related to performance. Education is key!
In addition, I work with many people who are pregnant and postpartum, where their goal is to remain as active as possible during pregnancy and return to competition or recreational sport after their baby is born.
What I would like to see change is the access to pelvic health education in sport. This can be very empowering for athletes to understand their body and to use it to their advantage when training and competing.
What specific strategies would you like to see parents, coaches, or sport administrators do to improve diversity in sport or progress your cause?
First, talking about pelvic health is still somewhat taboo. I would love to see parents, coaches and medical teams prioritize education in early adolescents. To have conversations surrounding menstruation, how the female hormones may impact training, and who to talk to about their concerns surrounding pelvic health.
There are so many strategies available that athletes don’t just have to grin & bear things. It’s invaluable for athletes to understand their body and to use it to their advantage when training and competing.
It also can set an athlete up for participation success. It’s common for me to hear people say they quit sport because of a pelvic health concern – not just in adulthood but in youth sports as well. So if there’s awareness that some of these challenges can be addressed from a physiotherapy perspective, that can facilitate more confidence in young athletes and ultimately helping keep them involved in sport.
If you had 25 words worth of advice to share, what would you say?
Become an expert of your own body and learn to advocate for your health at a young age. If something doesn’t feel right or if you have symptoms, first, know that you are not alone. And second, know that you can seek help.