I've had a plethora of pregnant women in my studio recently. And I'm not sure if that's the proper terminology. Let's see...a pride of lions...a murder of crows...a precipice of pregnant women...hmm...I'll just stick with plethora as, whatever the appropriate collective noun, there's been a whole lot of pregnant folks in my studio of late (none of them my doing, mind you).
And pregnant or not, one of the more common complaints I get among women is incontinence. Now, no one just walks into my office and proclaims their bladder is dysfunctional. But after I've earned their trust as a practitioner, many women will tell me they sometimes pee themselves when coughing or laughing or sneezing or something. Often these women come from a background void (no pun intended) of strength training. In fact, the majority of these women belonged to a subset of exercisers known to suffer from the highest rate of incontinence among all disciplines: runners.
I'm not going to bash running or cardiovascular training in general right now. I'll save that for another time/place. Besides, I've been known to dabble in running myself on occasion. No, my intention with this article is to give my readers info they can depend on so they don't need Depends. To rehab the pelvic floor, I use a program which centers around 2 different exercises: Kegels and what I call Poop Squats. The first one is overdone and the second one is never done--even for those of us who aren't clogged up down there! See, since humans are basically the only creatures on earth who have to push crap up hill, our toilets have a major flaw. They're built too high. And you can all insert your personal version of a short joke here___________________. But even for you adults who don't get carded by the UPS man, you're too tall for you toilet. Unlike the days when modern plumbing consisted of an out house with a hole in the ground, sitting on a toilet today doesn't force you into a true squat. At best you get the thighs to parallel. But to truly massage the ascending colon to get things moving, you need to go deeper and allow the thighs to push against the abdomen.
So what does a dysfunctional toilet design have to do with rehab of the pelvic floor? Well, as many of you reading this know, I'm prone to tangents. But my point is you need to SQUAT! And DEEP! Yes, all those Kegels are tightening the muscles of the pelvic floor. But a tight muscle isn't necessarily a functional muscle. In fact, when overly facilitated, the muscles of the pelvic floor actually pull the sacrum anteriorly. You can actually feel this happen if you put your hand on your sacrum and contract the muscles of your pelvic floor. Just don't overdo it! This creates a faulty position of the pelvis. And as the pelvis goes, so goes the pelvic floor (not to mention the rest of your posture). For more info on this orthopedic truth, see my blog post entitled My Stance on Stilettos at http://triumphtraining.com/
A simple protocol for enhancing the function of the pelvic floor is to go into the shower (in case you make a mess) and descend into a deep, deep squat. Then relax the pelvic floor until you're just about to go. Contract those muscles just enough to keep an accident from occurring, stand up, and repeat for 10 reps or so. With enough work, you'll develop a butt that people will notice and some other muscles that people will never know are functioning--because they are.