Kara Thom, author of See Mom Run, and an expert on Keeping Fit during pregnancy and motherhood (sounds easy) interviewed me on the exciting mechanics of the Pelvic Floor (PF). I love the Pelvic Floor (kinda creepy, right?) And, as Kara reports, my position on the Kegel as a pelvic floor-weakening exercise is 180° from wide-spread belief, but, what can I say? Science is not based on public opinion.
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 (click here to view) 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?
To read Kara’s interview and my follow up click here: http://mamasweat.blogspot.com/2010/05/pelvic-floor-party-kegels-are-not.html
Follow up questions: http://mamasweat.blogspot.com/2010/05/pelvic-floor-encore.html