Move Over Kegels...To Keep "Toned" It's About Squats

Mon, 06/21/2010 - 08:38
Submitted by Betty Dodson

Yesterday I received an email from Amy Jo, a sister sex educator with the alarming news that Kegel exercises were not beneficial but actually detrimental. What?

Pelvic floor muscle awareness has been a big part of my teaching women about orgasms with me repeating: "Squeeze and release" while my Vaginal Barbell is inside my client's vagina while she stimulates her clitoris with a vibrator. The Barbell was designed as a resistance device for exercising these muscles (it also doubles as a great dildo).

As It turned out, this was basically a misunderstanding of how to go about doing Kegels by making the pelvic floor muscles "tight" instead of "toned."
A chronically tight muscle is weak not strong. Even my friend Dr. Michael Shea, a former Rolpher and now a leading authority on Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy recently gave me a diagram that showed how to relax the pelvic floor muscles. That's when I realized the part that's been missing in my own teaching was not emphasizing the release of the muscle after it's been tightened. Let's face it: we all know squeezing is much easier than releasing or "letting go."

So I went to the website www.katysays.com to read for myself what she had to say about all this. Katy is a biomechanist (physicist of soft tissue) who sounds to me like she knows what she's talking about. However I am not willing to throw Kegels out altogether. However, I do intend to be more diligent about emphasizing the release or letting go of the Pelvic Floor muscle. I now prefer to say PF muscle instead of the PC muscle (short for pubococcygeus) which stops the flow of urine and is just one of the pelvic floor muscles.

To maintain toned Pelvic Floor muscles, Katy emphasizes doing squats 3 times a day, especially for expecting mothers. We can actually squeeze and release the PF muscle while squatting with our backs curved in not rounded up. We all know less developed society's squat all the time. Each time they pee or poop they squat. As a result, they have less difficult births and so-called primitive women don't even know menstrual cramps exist. I'll also bet constipation is rare because that's another benefit of squatting- it opens the lower anal sphincter muscles that allow waste to be expelled. When I lived in Europe I'd come across public toilets with two foot prints on either side of a hole in the floor. I squatted then and also did the same on camping trips or when traveling long distances in a car when I'd find a bush, get behind it and then squat and pee.

I have no quarrel with the idea of squats, but I had double hip replacements in 1996 so I'm limited in doing proper squatting. However, I lived on the floor during the 40 years I ran groups in my carpeted apartment along with years of doing Yoga postures which included squatting. During different phases of healing when I'd go somewhere to eat raw food, drink veggie juice, and get colonics, squatting was always recommended for elimination. My girlfriend still squats on top of her toilet seat at home.

Now when I talk to a client about PF muscle toning, I'll focus more on letting the pelvic floor relax. One Physical Therapist used elevator imagery: Breathe in slowly as you squeeze and lift the PF muscle starting in the basement. Then pull the muscle up to your Abs on the ground floor, then on up to the top floor by lifting your diaphragm. Hold a moment and then let it all drop back down to the basement as you exhale! Let go of everything and rest a moment. The PF muscle is now relaxed. Katy's website has great pictures of her doing different exercises that are very helpful.

Another great website for Mothers is www.mamasweat.com. Below is a conversation between these two moms that is very informative information that covers incontinence so I included it too. Read on:

Mama Sweat: First, a lot of women just assume it's childbirth that causes incontinence, but I've read that pregnancy itself puts a strain on the bladder (so a c-section won't necessarily save you) and that most women, as they get older--whether they've had children or not--will likely experience problems with incontinence. And even men aren't immune. All this suggests that a weak pelvic floor doesn't discriminate.

Katy Bowman: Nulliparous women (that's women who've never had a baby) and men are equally affected with PFD (pelvic floor disorder) so while child birth may accelerate PF weakening, it is not a primary cause of PFD. PFD is first caused by slack in the pelvic floor due to the fact that the sacrum is moving anterior, (in front of) into the bowl of the pelvis. Because the PF muscles attach from the coccyx to the pubic bone, the closer these bony attachments get, the more slack in the PF (the PF becomes a hammock).

MS: So rather than a hammock, you'd rather your PF be more like a stretcher--more firm and able to hold up weight without buckling?

KB: I like to think of the PF like a trampoline--the material is supple, but taut...the perfect muscle length.

MS: 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?

KB: 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. Peeing like this in the shower is a 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.
 

MS: OK, I had to step away from my computer a moment to fully process this. First of all, you just said it's OK to pee in the shower, but what really has my head spinning--did I catch this right?--you said: Too many Kegels can cause PFD? Did everyone hear that loud screeching noise? You realize this goes against everything I've ever heard or read; that Kegels are the be all end all for pelvic floor strength.

KB: I know, I feel like I'm running around saying The Sky is Falling, The Sky is Falling. The misunderstanding of pelvic floor issues is so widely spread. I'm a Team of One right now. But, I've got all of the science backing it up and it makes sense, the Kegel is just such a huge part of our inherited culture information, no one bothered to fully examine it. Anyhow, your PF is underneath the weight of your organs, and the strength your PF needs is equal to this weight (you don't need SUPER STRONG PF muscles, just enough to keep everything closed).

When you run, the extra G forces (2-3) actually increase the "weight" while running, but the PF should be adapting, just like all your muscles. One of the biggest misnomers is that tight muscles are "strong" and loose muscles are "weak." In actuality, the strongest muscle is one that is the perfect length - you need Pelvic Floor Goldilocks - it's juuuuuust right. The Kegel keeps making the PF tighter and tighter (and weaker and weaker). The short term benefits are masking the long term detriments. Ditch the Kegels and add two to three squat sessions throughout the day (anywhere). The glutes strengthen and as a result, they pull the sacrum back, stretching the PF from a hammock to a trampoline. Viola! You can still practice opening and closing your PF in real-time situations, but you don't have to approach it like a weight-lifting session or anything. It doesn't need to be on the To Do list :)

MS: I am ALL for scratching items off my to-do list! Before we get too carried away with our newfound freedom from Kegels, I want to get back to the role of our glutes. What you're saying--and I love this--is that there's a much better reason, besides aesthetics, to avoid the flat butt syndrome found in most older women (further exacerbated in "mom jeans"). Having a booty--as in strong glutes--will not only do wonders for your view from the backside but prevent you from peeing just a little (or a lot) when you sneeze. This is revolutionary. I love what I'm hearing.

KB: Ok, I'm yelling this: YOU REQUIRE YOUR BUTT MUSCLES! There aren't any extraneous parts on the body! Every muscle is really a pulley that is holding your skeleton just so. When you let your gluts go, you allow the bones of the pelvis to collapse into themselves. The squat is the most effective and natural butt strengthener--using the full range of motion and your body weight. It is entirely more effective than any gym machine or contrived exercise. The hunter-gathering folks squat multiple times a day (or at least once in the morning), so they had a nice routine down over a lifetime. Doing this four to five times a day, every day of your pregnancy will improve your delivery as well!

I want to thank MamaSweat and KatySays for all of this new information. It will be added to my private session work with women seeking a first orgasm or looking for a fuller expression of sexual pleasure. The Internet has become my idea of a divine power higher than any one person or divinity. We might call it "Collective Consciousness" from all of our brains combined and made accessible to anyone who searches for answers. Now let's all squat together!

Liberating women one orgasm at a time

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Squats worked for me! I had

Mon, 01/17/2011 - 19:01
dizzy8 (not verified)

Squats worked for me! I had my first baby at 31 but unfortunately ended up with a prolapsed bowel and suffered from discomfort and pain for a few years. The hospital physiotherapist explained about pelvic floor exercises but they didn't appear to make any difference. Since I was a teenager I have suffered from knee problems and finally went to see a specialist and had a scan. He said there was nothing he could do surgically and that I needed to grit my teeth through the pain and build up the muscles around my knees. I started doing squats and lunges, cycling, and blew the dust off my rowing machine and I have seen a vast improvement in my pelvic floor. Obviously only surgery (in time) will fix the prolapse but I rarely have that 'heavy' feeling now and am much happier.

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