Monday, December 10, 2012

Pelvic Floor - to Kegel or not to Kegel?

My attention was recently brought to the Mama Sweat blog and a post about the pelvic floor. I feel like my world was blown up after reading this:

Mama Sweat: And kegels. Everyone on my blog has heard me preach about kegels. I want to make sure all my readers are doing them right. Suggestions?

Katy Bowman: A kegel attempts to strengthen the PF, but it really only continues to pull the sacrum inward promoting even more weakness, and more PF gripping. The muscles that balance out the anterior pull on the sacrum are the glutes. A lack of glutes (having no butt) is what makes this group so much more susceptible to PFD. Zero lumbar curvature (missing the little curve at the small of the back) is the most telling sign that the PF is beginning to weaken. Deep, regular squats (pictured in hunter-gathering mama) create the posterior pull on the sacrum. An easier way to say this is: Weak glutes + too many Kegels = PFD.

What??? Everything I thought I knew seems wrong all the sudden. Well, not exactly. After reading this interview and visiting Katy's website it turns out that many of the things I have learned and taught about the pelvic floor are in alignment with what Katy teaches but I had never thought about the sacrum being pulled toward the pubic bone as a result of over tightening the pelvic floor and thus creating a loose/hanging pelvic floor.

Read the whole article here.

Apparently this topic was so popular Mama Sweat did a follow-up interview to clarify a few points. Here's a quote:

Back to Dr. Kegel. Now he had all these women who were noticing weakness and invented the Kegelizer, or something like that. It was equivalent to the Kegel-exercisers you see now. Just insert and squeeze. The squeeze improved the lost mental connection between a damaged PF and one that was firing correctly. Firing correctly meant that when the PF was done contracting, the muscles could restore to their optimal length. This part of Dr. Kegel’s research protocol has been left out and the only part that has been passed on is the contracting part.

Science Note: The muscle tissue in your PF is the same as the muscle tissue in your biceps. When you’re done realllly working your biceps, you’d like your arm to go back to its original length, right? What if, when you were done doing your curls, your elbows stayed as bent as they were when your muscles were the TIGHTEST? If you equate strong with tight, then you’d have “strong,” contracted arms with bent elbows all the time. Tight muscles. Unusable arms.

That’s not what TONE is. Tone is having the MOST strength and the MOST length.

Doing Kegels all the time will get you a TIGHT, unusable pelvic floor. This is why people’s ORGANS ARE FALLING OUT OF THEIR BODY.

Read the whole article here.

Well this is making sense to me now. Yoga teaches us that a strong muscle is toned not tight and stress is not strength. I biked a lot this summer and I found that I "felt it" in my inner thighs and butt. I know my pelvic floor is strong (or perhaps over strong) and after biking I realized how much I needed to tone some of the other major pelvic girdle supporter muscles. These articles are falling right in line with what I have been feeling in my own body. Excellent couple of articles on pelvic floor health.

If you are interested in learning more about toning the pelvic floor, pelvic girdle and the "helper muscles" here is a link to a series of articles I wrote on this topic:  Restoring and Rebuilding the Inner Core.