Tuesday, February 11, 2014

No more Kegels!

Remember when I said that CrossFit did a terrible disservice to women (and men) in this video when they said that peeing while exercising is normal? Well, it's not. On the bright side, CrossFit brought a taboo topic for a lot of women out of the (water) closet. :-)

Lots of folks chimed in on the interwebs about how if you're wetting your pants while exercising (or sneezing, coughing, laughing, etc.), it's not a mark of kicking butt, but rather a malfunction of your pelvic floor, breathing patterns, diaphragm and out-of-whack intra-abdominal pressure.  Julie Wiebe, a physical therapist specializing in sports medicine and women's health, had a few thoughts, too, and wants to help.

Julie rocks! She's on a mission to help women with incontinence. This is not just a problem for little old ladies and new moms, either. It can even affect athletes like CrossFitnatics. A lot of women might not know there are treatment options to help with incontinence, or they are too embarrassed to seek help. Julie's so passionate about educating folks that she's produced a very thorough and easy-to-understand webinar to help you help yourself. Just so you know, this is not Kegels! Nope, it's so much more.

Just like when you squat to pick up a laundry basket or reach up to shove your carry-on into the overhead bin, your body should work in a fluid motion, with multiple muscles working together to make an action happen. So, why would we think that just tightening our pelvic floors is going to solve the problem? Julie says there's a team of muscles--your diaphragm, your pelvic floor, multifidus and transversus abdominis (TA)--working together like gears to keep your center stable but supple, so you can lift, jump and sneeze with dry panties. Here are a few things that might peak your interest:

  • First of all, your pelvic floor should not be constantly firing (tightening). It should flex and rebound like any other muscle group.
  • You should not be engaging (holding in) your abs constantly, but they should release and rebound with your breathing patterns. In other words, you could be overtraining your abs!
  • You need to learn what neutral spine is and what it feels like because your postural alignment plays a key role in your pelvic floor health.
  • If you tuck your bum and squeeze your gluteus maximus all the time, please stop! Your butt is not a stabilizer... but more on that later.
  • Your diaphragm and how you breathe affects your pelvic floor.
  • How you hold your rib cage affects your pelvic floor.
  • All of the above lays the foundation for better breathing and pelvic floor health and can help alleviate aches and pains not only "down there," but even in your back, shoulders, neck and jaw.

Once again, the fitness geek in me finds all of this fascinating! :-)

Like some of the restorative exercise methods I teach to my clients, Julie's exercises aren't particularly hard to do. But, they will challenge you to retrain your brain-body connection. This is neurological retraining, folks -- relearning how to function well for everyday life. But somewhere, somehow, we developed some bad habits that will take some time to break. The moves are simple, but not simplistic. And they will take time to reset the way you move, breathe and control your bladder. But you'll be glad you did.

You can buy Julie Wiebe's Pelvic Floor from Zero to Fitness Webinar on her website. For health and fitness professionals, check out Julie's professional bundle pack so you get the research to back up her methods.

I'll be sharing this information with private clients and in my small groups. Stay tuned!

PS This is by no means a substitute for medical care. Talk to your doctor if you have incontinence. But if she just suggests Kegels check Julie's webinar for more help.


Julie Wiebe, PT said...

Hi Krisin! I am seeing this for the first time today. Thank you so much for writing it (almost a year ago). I really truly appreciate it! I am glad you found it so helpful!

All the best from a fellow fitness geek....that also finds the body SO fascinating-


Kristin Jackson, Think Somatics said...

Thanks for stopping by, Julie!

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