I just love my guest bloggers, and I know you do, too!
This week’s guest is Natalia Gill of Studio 3. We met, oddly enough, at our childrens’ tae kwon do studio, and it was ages before I realized the absolute wealth of knowledge residing in this woman’s head! Even more impressive than that is her mission to connect families with real, wholesome living through good food and good exercise. She’s a Dr. Sears Certified Health Coach, an experienced yoga and Pilates instructor, and a Georgia fan (go Dawgs!). Her Fresh Start package can give you just that — a kitchen “cleanse,” if you will. For tips, recipes and general goodness, fan her up on Facebook and Twitter.
When we chatted about this piece, I asked her for something I don’t already talk about incessantly, and she nailed it.
You’ll love her as much as I do!
Kegels, as most people know them, are a bit on the wimpy side.
Yes, they are better than nothing but pretending to stop your stream of urine over and over again is boring. And besides, it’s just the tip of the iceberg! But with a deeper awareness of what is happening in your nether regions, you can tap into some serious pelvic floor power.
Watch the way children move – so much spring in their step, an unrestrainable zoe flowing through their little bodies. There is no doubt they are using their pelvic floor muscles. But as we age and start to bear the weight of the world (while having babies and sitting in front of computers) we lose that zing, and a sublime, innate connection to some very important little muscles. But don’t fret… it is just a matter of reawakening what we were born with! And it is easier than you think!
What is the pelvic floor (PF)?
Here is a “camera up the skirt/kilt” view.
Are you sitting down? Notice the two bones that are holding you upright (cushioned by those lovely buttocks) – your sitting bones. Now find your pubic bone* and your tailbone. These four points (2 sitting bones, the pubic bone, and tailbone) make a diamond. When you are standing, this diamond is parallel to the horizontal plane of the bottom of your feet. The muscles within this diamond are collectively referred to as your pelvic floor.
Feel your PF
1) Sit on a medicine ball or chair. Relax. Breathe.
2) Now without changing the way you look on the outside, organically and very energetically pull your private parts away from the ball/chair. Feel as if they are lifting up the center of your body, traveling up an elevator. Then, lower the pelvic floor muscles back down with control.
3) Repeat step 2. When your PF “elevator” gets to its highest point, notice your abdominals start to engage. Strengthen this connection by pulling your abs in like you are trying to squeeze into a pair of super tight jeans.
Girls, this will feel like you are trying to pull a tampon up inside of your body. Men, you can pretend like you are trying to suck in your testicles. That’s the visual my 6’5” South African client casually offered up while I was hemming and hawing (“um, it kind of feels like…oh, you know, kind of like …”)
Yes! You have found your PF-deep abdominal connection! Take this connection into your workouts (remember it should be organic, not strained) and soon your body will move with more efficiency and grace. To hasten the learning curve, try Pilates, yoga or Gyrotonic classes with an experienced teacher.
My PF testimony
Before I was really in tune with my pelvic floor, I had infrequent but recurring sciatic-nerve-related pain on the right side of my lower back. It could be so excruciating that I once hobbled in to the chiropractor bent over at 90⁰.
But since I have relearned to move “correctly”, these bouts have become a distant memory. The pelvic floor is once again the root of all my movements. These little muscles activate my deep abdominals and spinal stabilizing muscles, keeping my spine healthy while moving strength and stability outward until even what my little pinky is doing can be traced back to them.
Using my Pelvic Floor (PF) saves energy too by allowing my larger, and more superficial muscles (biceps, deltoids, quads) to perform maximum work with minimal effort. An appealing prospect for athletes and lazy people alike! (Because of this, I was able to do a full on, zero momentum pull up the other day – next time I’m going for two!)
*”Pubic bone” is a simplification and technically incorrect. We have two pubic bones which are joined together by the symphysis pubis. I didn’t want to add confusion to the four-point-diamond visual.
Your PF confession time:
Did you think Kegels were just for the girls?
Have you been doing them forever, and seeing no real benefit? Or worse yet, infinitely putting them on tomorrow’s to-do list?