Reverse Curls for Your Pelvic Floor!?

In the "Getting the Knack of It," blog entry I discussed the importance of contracting the pelvic floor muscles in order to brace against internal forces (laugh, cough, sneeze, & lifting anything heavy). I mentioned how being able to let the muscles go after a pelvic floor brace was just as important (or arguably even more important). 

I received quite a few inquires as to why this was the case. 

Let's talk about range of motion.

The pelvic floor is just like any other muscle in the body. So let's use the bicep as an example. We need to be able to flex the bicep at the elbow in order to feed yourself, brush your teeth, etc. Likewise, you also need to be able to extend the bicep (straighten the arm) in order to relax the arm at your side. The pelvic floor also needs to be able to do both actions....flexion and extension.

In pelvic floor speak, flexion is a Kegel and extension is a reverse Kegel (or relaxation).

Just like you need to be able to flex and extend your bicep in order for your arms to function fully, your pelvic floor muscles also need to move through both ranges of motion.

We need flexion (Kegel) to maintain continence and keep organs protected inside our body. 

We need extension to be able to have full evacuation of a bowel movement (read blog entry "A Proper Way to Poop?! Tell me More!). Both ranges of motion add to the pleasure experienced during intimacy and can enhance overall pain-free pelvic movement.

If you would like help making these concepts even more tangible, contact us at the Functional Pelvis. Curls and reverse curls aren't just for biceps :)

 

 

 

Getting “The Knack” of It

When the pressure increases on our pelvic floor (when we sneeze, laugh, cough, lifting anything heavy (such as kids!), it is extremely important to counteract these pressures with a pelvic floor brace.

Why is bracing important?

Think of the pelvic floor as a simple pressure system. Abdominal pressures directly above our pelvic floor musculature have the ability to drive significant force down onto it. Thanks a lot gravity!

In response to these pressures, the pelvic floor has to descend and give a little.  While the buoyancy of the floor is a beautiful thing, when we have had children or our pelvic floor is weak, these forces serve to further weaker the muscles. The descent response becomes bigger and bigger and our muscles continue to weaken and ultimately influence our long term ability to control urine and bowel movements as well as preventing pelvic floor prolapse.

What Can I Do?

Brace your pelvic floor in these moments to help counteract these pressures. This is called “the Knack.”

I find a simple visualization exercise can help increase our ability contact our muscles in these high-pressure moments. Let’s use a cough as an example. Think of a hammer inside your abdomen. This hammer strikes down rather forcefully with a cough. The hammer’s pressure is applied directly to the hammock-like muscles that form our pelvic floor. This repeated pressure is not kind to our muscles. Muscles need to be elastic, buoyant and strong in order to counteract this pressure. Ultimately you need to have the ability to hold strong against these pressures but of course you need to also let the muscles go in order for them to relax and return to a resting state. (This topic is very important and deserves its own blog entry).

Visit your local pelvic floor therapist to find the correct way to train these muscles and to start fighting back against the forces of gravity!

A Proper Way to Poop?! Tell Me More!

My job enables me to talk about these fascinating elimination topics all day long....and then I get to go home and "talk" about it some more since I have two kids under age 3!

Things such as proper body mechanics during elimination is not something that most people consider "proper" conversation! However, when I say "Proper" I am referring to the most effective and efficient way for our pelvic floor muscles to relax in order to allow for complete bowel movement.

Back when we used to squat in order to have a bowel movement, our body positioning was much more conducive to complete emptying. Nerd alert: This is because our anorectal angle was open, enabling less effort in moving our bowels. Thank goodness for modern conveniences of plumbing and waste management. However, can we marry the modern bathroom with effective body positioning? The answer is yes!

1) Grab yourself a stool. A rather wide stool such as the squatty potty. A stool gets your legs in a more squat-like position (thereby opening the anorectal angle) and a wide stool takes it one step further by allowing your legs to open out to the sides. This relaxes the hip muscles. These muscles connect to the pelvic floor.....so when you relax them, the pelvic floor opens more. This leads to more complete evacuation. 

2) Sit for 10-15 minutes. No rushing! Grab a book or your ipad and give time for your muscles to relax and open.

3) Try to poop in the morning. The gastrocolic reflex is something that occurs naturally in the morning. This reflex capitalizes on the peristaltic nature of our colon thereby also leading to more complete bowel movement.

Happy pooping!

 

 

 

No Ordinary Bladder

Often clients I see with abnormal bladder functioning are unaware that they have it. After a discussion of how the bladder should normally work, we often uncover bladder problems. So what exactly is ‘normal’ bladder function?

What Goes In, Must Come Out

Let's start with what and how much you should be drinking. WATER!! You should drink about 1.5 liters of water a day. Another tip is to reduce caffeine, which is a common bladder irritant and often contributes to abnormal peeing habits. What other habits should you be examining? What exactly are normal habits? 

  • Peeing 5-7 times a day, and once at night if you're over 60
  • No leaking with laughing, coughing, sneezing
  • Don't pee "just in case" you don't know when you'll find the next bathroom (so common in NYC!)
  • No dribble as you stand up from peeing
  • No pushing to get all the urine out
  • No pain

If you leak when you laugh, cough, sneeze you may have stress urinary incontinence which is resolvable. If you can relate to "just in case" urination, you may have over active bladder. Pelvic Floor therapy can help can address these issues and gently help you with lifestyle modifications that are impacting your problem. Contact us and we can help!