Relieved, grateful, open. That’s how many women leave their Pilates session on Pelvic Floor fitness with me. An hour earlier they were awkward, nervous, skeptical, and sometimes exasperated with their experience of an unclear diagnosis so far. Their primary care doctor was able to test for infections, but they don't have any. Their OB said they didn't see anything unsual. God forbid, but its common, they are told "its just in their head." They have seen multiple medical providers, perhaps had surgery, or are experiencing pain or incontinence on a daily basis. Often their lives revolve around minimizing the discomfort and they have lowered their expectations for how they should feel and live. Maybe they are new moms and have no idea if they are healing properly or if they'll "ever get their core back," or have sex comfortably again. Maybe they are women whose children are 25 years old now but they are just now experiencing symptoms and it changed overnight when they hit menopause. Maybe they've never had children but they have always been a person that holds their stress in their core and they experience both pain and constipation and can't really take a deep breath. They are beyond wanting to tone their body or lose the last few pounds. They want their body to simply work properly, they want to feel in control and strong. In the beginning often I’m doing the talking, asking them many questions and they soon realize that I’ve talked about this many times before and what they are wanting to tell me doesn’t surprise me and I’m expecting it, often smiling and reassuring them its all very common, they are having a common experience but feeling all alone and that feels confusing and isolating. They come to understand that we are creating a community for them to get help and be supported.
I am part advocate, part teacher, part fitness consultant, and part healthy life coach. What do they want to achieve, what does a healthy, functioning body do for them? How will it make them feel? How do they feel in their body now? Then we get to work teaching them what they need to know and how to do it. They learn they are in control of their health and wellness and they've already made the first step towards greater wellbeing.
I usually teach how to do proper core breathing, we look at their posture, check for abdominal separation called Diastasis. All of this plays into proper function of the core and pelvic floor. I give them tips for how to protect their pelvic floor from further injury or stress (no sit ups!) and how proper body mechanics are important. The core program I teach is Pfilates, an exercise method created by Dr. Bruce Crawford, a board certified OB/GYN who realized that solutions involving surgeries and medication were not addressing the root cause of many women's health problems. Many issues like incontinence and prolapse could be prevented or lessened through basic strengthening and awareness. Pfilates was created after years of research and does not require a woman to know how to do a Kegel. And, I might add, most don't. But we work on that, and its a supportive environment. Women choose the couple Pfilates exercises they really like and we talk about how to work them into their daily routines. I send them off to their day or evening and sometimes I feel like I can sense a weight lifting off their shoulders, and some I swear jump and click their heels...but maybe that's just me.
So no matter your age, kids or no kids, if you are having symptoms you don’t understand and you are experiencing a lower quality of life because of the symptoms and think its related to your female system (a vague concept we are not properly educated on), find a reputable Urogynecologist or a Women’s Health Physical Therapist and get assessed. If they encourage pelvic floor strengthening (usually a given at some point), come see me. We talk (a lot) about your process and journey and set you up for growth, strength, and getting a deeper experience of health from the inside out. Trust me, I have been there, done that, and recovered stronger and more aware than I was before. Being a health coach and Pilates instructor I have the unique ability to help you on a fitness level and as a whole woman as well.
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PS update- all pelvic floor fitness news and articles and info are moved to www.kegelforacause.com - check out the info on the website for our next event November 8th, 2014!