Friday, June 18, 2010

Pelvic Floor Party Trick

Many of you have read the recent and popular posts, Pelvic Floor Party and Pelvic Floor Encore, but you may no longer be following along in the comments where the discussion lives (rages?) on. I'm thrilled Mama Sweat is the forum for such an important discussion, but mostly all I can do is nod and smile.

This week, we got a comment that made me laugh out loud and I knew that there was no way I could leave it buried and unnoticed. From Matthew J Taylor, PT, PhD (trust him, he's a doctor) we get:

Not to confuse the issue, but to introduce some fun, I presume everyone is familiar with the concept of the connection between the pelvic floor and your tongue (careful, it's a family site)?

Seriously...sit feet flat on the floor, pelvis square on a chair, spine softly erect. Now, sensing the space between your sitting bones (ischial tuberosities), gently begin to press your tongue against the back of your teeth and watch what happens to your PF as you increase the pressure, and then watch as you slowly release (old Feldenkrais lesson).

Not only that, but what you are thinking and what you believe in the moment directly impacts your breathing pattern, which also sets tone in the PF (for the evidence crowds see O'Sullivan PB, Beales DJ. Man Ther. 2007.Aug;12 (3):209-18. Epub 2006 Aug 17.)

So feet on the floor, soften the tongue and exhale...happy PF's everyone!
Isn't that great? Although I don't know who old Feldenkrais is, I appreciate the new party trick because I can't touch my nose with my tongue.

On a more serious note, another comment came in regarding the important but forgotten step of relaxing the pelvic floor. Leah F. gives us another good reason to put it into practice and stop being so "assed up" all the time:

As a counseling student, I've become aware of valuable information about pelvic floor relaxation in trauma work and in bodily health (the idea being that if we live in a constantly stressed state, in the "fight or flight" sympathetic nervous system, our bodies will burn out, hence the need for an effective way to relax). The pelvic floor is the only part of the body completely surrounded by muscle, so by relaxing the PF for 20-30 seconds, the rest of the body is triggered to relax and switch into the parasympathetic nervous system. "Being able to live in a state of 'non anxious presence' (NAP) is key to managing future potential crises and traumas. NAP is not something that can be mastered in one session, but is something that needs to be practiced and used when life is not traumatic. It is a technique used to facilitate the PNS, so that we may stay relaxed and calm. Good gauge of a NAP is a relaxed pelvic floor. Being in this state allows one to be empathetic, compassionate and bear witness as a spectator. It is about relaxed mindfulness and comfort in ones own body." (Noel Holdsworth DNH, APRN-BC, CTS
And included in all this pelvic floor discussion we have had a few comments calling for the need for "scientific proof."

It's there, says Christine Kent from Whole Woman, Inc. who urges us to check out the paper, "Genital prolapse: a legacy of the West?" in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. But as she puts it: "The people who fund large studies generally do not want to know what reverses the very disorder that is the bread and butter of gynecology." She goes on to say:
More importantly are natural and real-time testimonials of women themselves, which were never possible before the great democratizing power of the internet. Maintaining the natural shape of the spine is the only way the pelvic organ support system properly functions.
And I liked what Michael Curran had to say in response to an "anonymous scientist":

As a health practitioner, I have followed this blog with some interest. In an intelligent discussion, Anonymous provides an odd voice, without the self-respect to identify the source of strange and illogical arguments backed only by having identified one’s self as “a scientist.” Where Bowman has presented a logical, coherent and viable solution for a pervasive health problem, your contribution has been to question the scientific validity of the approach by comparing PFD with stretch marks (ladies) and "inherited bad teeth."

It’s a sad state of affairs when a “scientist” - real or self-perceived - is so quick to dismiss an unfamiliar therapy when the “correlation” evidence is compelling, the contrary evidence is non-existent, and the cost of implementation is zero.
And that's the bottom line here. In my mind it doesn't matter whether there are studies to back this up or not. If you start squatting more (and squatting more will neither hurt you or cost you anything) and this helps you, then your study of one is successful.

Heck, with all the responses to these posts and so many woman ready to drop Kegels from their life (it's like a bra-burning rally at Mama Sweat) we've got plenty of willing study participants, don't you think?

Everything I know about pelvic floor health is posted on my website,


Anita Noone said...

Feldenkrais is Moshe Feldenkrais, who invented the Feldenkrais Method of Somatic Education(R) - the best source ever for ways to improve your workout pleasurably and to keep your exercise routine fresh, interesting, and fun.

I've been running, swimming, and biking my whole life: before kids, with kids, and now with adult kids. But I've never had more fun with exercise than I have had since I started doing Feldenkrais. I wish I had found it sooner...

More info at and

Charlotte said...

Hmph. That party trick didn't work for me. What does that say about my pelvic floor?!? Love that this convo is still going loud & strong! Soooo educational!

Anonymous said...

i didn't feel a thing except the awareness of one of my feet hitting the floor more completely than the other. i guess that means one of my legs is longer than the other?

i feel kegels, pressing my tongue against the back of my teeth yielded nada.