Welcome to Part Two! I’m so excited to be writing today. I have so much to say that I hope will help a lot of women. Please share this information with every woman in your life. If you have not read Part One, please stop right here and read it. You need to know a little background before you can progress any further.
Let’s review: In Part One I gave you some of my background in dealing with urinary stress incontinence…yeah, peeing on myself. That may be your story or you may only pee just a wee little bit. Whatever the case, it’s not going to get better, and only get worse, unless you do something. How do I know it will be worse? Well, I worked in a nursing home as a nurse’s aid my Junior year of high school when I wanted to see if I would enjoy nursing (my mother is a nurse). Over 95% of the residents wore urinary pads (men, too) and I was the one who had to change them. It wasn’t pretty, the residents that were aware were highly embarrassed and I knew I wanted a better quality of life in my old age.
It doesn’t have to be that way. You don’t have to let your body go to hell in a hand basket. Have you heard of this fabulous 75 year old woman, Ernestine Shepherd, who is a personal trainer, a competitive body builder, and a professional model? This woman is incredible and a real role model. Get this…she didn’t even start until she was 56 years old. She led a sedentary life and never did any exercise. How fabulous is that? You don’t have to put up with your body breaking down. I’m sure Ernestine doesn’t pee on herself. She says on her website that she doesn’t take any medications and doesn’t have any aches and pains. That’s what healthy living, eating right, exercise, and great sex will do for you. I don’t know if she has great sex, but she’s been married for 52 years to a supportive husband. Look at the shape she’s in! How can you not have great sex with a body like a 25 year old?
You know her husband, Collin, is a happy guy. Many women her age are plagued with osteoporosis, dementia, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, etc. So what do you say we minimize the risk so we not only achieve longevity, but a have a good time while we’re getting older and gaining wisdom? And having great sex…lots and lots and lots of great sex.
Back to your Pelvic Floor Muscles (PFM)…If you can’t jump up and down how are you going to work out and have great sex? Your PFMs are the backbone of your sexual response and a key to your overall good health. Having your entire pelvis in shape and aligned will do so much for your body. You’ll be able to fully participate in activities, exercise, and sports. And you’ll have great….fuck that….insanely awesome sex!
OK, Elle, we hear you, now shut up and give it to us. Here’s a summary of what we learned from the Mama Sweat interview with Katy Bowman:
1) Your PFM need to be like a trampoline, not a hammock, because the PFMs attach from the coccyx to the pubic bone, the closer these bony attachments get, the more slack in the PF.
2) 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.
3) 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 Pelvic Floor Disorder/Disfunction (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.
4) Deep, regular squats (pictured in the photos below) create the posterior pull on the sacrum. Peeing like this in the shower is great daily practice, as is relaxing the PF muscles to make sure that you’re not squeezing the bathroom muscle closers too tight. Just close them enough.
An easier way to say this is: Weak glutes + too many Kegels = PFD (Pelvic Floor Disorder)
The following are photos of the type of squats Katy calls hunter-gathering mama, which you’ll see women outside the western world doing all the time, but it’s really a birthing squat and it’s taught a lot in yoga classes. You have to stick your ass out when you do it so you get that little curve at the base of your spine. You know how to stick your ass out, right? It’s just like presenting your ass to your Sir. So stop tucking your hips under! Women are constantly being told this and it’s just wrong, wrong, wrong. It’s hard to find a photo of a woman in full squat with her ass out more so just keep that in mind when you’re in full squat and make sure you push that ass out more creating that lower back curve. Make sure you keep your heels on the ground and that your knees are over your ankles. If you need to hold onto something make sure you don’t grip it for dear life; it’s just for helping you balance. Try to do 5 sets of 10 of these each day. Pee in the shower like this 2x a day as well.
All over the world, 80-year olds drop down into this squat like it’s no big deal, because they have been doing it three times a day at minimum! This information applies to anyone wanting to optimize low back, pelvic floor, and digestive system health. If you haven’t fully flexed your knees and hips in some time, it’s best to start lying on your back, pulling your knees to your chest to “warm up” the joints.
So the above is Step One in the process. Immediately start incorporating the hunter-gathering mama squats into your daily routine and make them a part of your life for the rest of your life.
Now, let’s talk about your glutes. I’m going to let Katy speak for herself:
“The PF muscles run between the sacrum (the triangular bone at the base of the spine) and the pubic bone (the bottom-front of the pelvis). Ideally you want the PF to be long, supple, and taut, to generate long-term forces that hold up your organs, as well as have enough motor skill to open and close your bathroom muscles as needed. When the PF is too tight, it can pull the sacrum out of alignment, bringing it forward, into the bowl of the pelvis. Bye-Bye strong PF muscles, Hello Pelvic Floor Hammock.Hammocks are for vacation and have not promoted the notion of long-term force generation for some time.
The gluteal muscles (your butt!) keep the PF in check, preventing the sacrum from collapsing and provide leverage for the PF to contract. The secret to perfect pelvic floor tone is supple and strong glutes and PF muscles — not one stronger than the other.
Oh, and P.S. This goes for you too, Dudes. You have a pelvic floor too, and although your organs won’t prolapse or peek out of your vagina (vagina. vagina. vagina. Anyone uncomfortable?), they will settle down onto your prostate. For your prostate, this is about as comfortable as being trapped underneath a large bookcase.
The squatting exercise progression from You Don’t Know Squat should be done a few times a day, even in a modified form, until the tension in the knees, hips, back, and feet allow you to settle in. Then, keep doing this bathroom squat on a “regular” basis. Get it?”
So now you have the above (the exercises in You Don’t Know Squat) as Step Two. Click on that link above for photos and instructions on how to do those exercises. And did you catch it, gentlemen? This could benefit you too. According to the Mayo Clinic, some evidence also exists that strengthening the PF can be advantageous to men with erectile dysfunction, or the inability to maintain an erection firm enough for intercourse. HA!!! Gotcha ya!!!
According to Livestrong.com, women who regularly perform PF exercises develop a stronger, thicker vaginal wall. Knowing how to control PFMs leads to keener vaginal sensation and enhanced sexual arousal. Women with toned pelvic floors might also be better able to experience orgasms…again, and again, and again, and again… [my emphasis, and a good one, too].
Step Three…crunches…yeah, they suck, too. If you have a problem with your PFMs (aka peeing on yourself) stop doing them immediately. Again, Katy says:
“It’s better to do transverse abdominal stabilizing exercises, like the plank, that will decrease any bearing down that sprains pelvic organ ligaments. Once you get yourself out of the weak and overcompensating PF tension cycle, you should feel like you have better bladder control within a few weeks. If you are already experiencing organ prolapse (it is way more common that people realize) you need to skip the run and switch to long, endurance walks (minimize G forces), and do your pelvic-aligning exercises every day–maybe even twice.”
According to my Sir, your hips need to be in alignment with your shoulders and ears (exactly like the fist picture). Start with the first plank and hold it for 10 seconds and do 3 sets, with 3 seconds rest in between. Move on to the bent arm side plank and do the same amount of sets and reps (make sure you do both sides). Move on to the next 2 planks and your abs and PF will be in shape and aligned within weeks. Sir has had his highly competitive athletes do these planks for years and the results are so much better than crunches. Sir has promised to give a tip each week with any modifications or additions. Your feedback is vitally important so write to us and let us know how you’re doing.
Finally, Step Four, but it’s important that you incorporate Step Four immediately. There are everyday things you can do to keep your PFMs in optimal shape. 1) If you have organ prolapse you must reduce your impact activities until you have better muscle strength. 2) Get out of wearing heels everyday. If you have a problem already heels will only exacerbate it. You can wear heels for special occasions or once in a while, but don’t wear them all day long. 3) Stay off the treadmill. There’s a link below with a simple physics lesson to tell you why. 4) Stop sitting on your sacrum. You need to learn how to sit properly. Again see the link.
So there you have it! This is our (and Katy’s) Four Step Plan to get you to stop peeing on yourself and to help you get your PF in shape, start exercising again, and start enjoying sex. I wanted to “feel” more while having sex and I wanted to completely abandon myself, but I couldn’t do that when when I was out of alignment. All I can say is that it’s working, and I’ve “upped” my game even more over the last few weeks. I’m having the time of my life! You don’t have to feel defeated. If you feel old, be like Ernestine (and me) and get off your ass. Your ass has a much better use than sitting on it all day long.
Copyright © 2013 – by The Submission of Elle
Photos courtesy of Pinterest