I wrote a while back about why the squat is not the new kegel. Check out Part 1 HERE
I want to write on this again because I still get people asking me and each other "what should I do- Kegels or Squats?" Of course, I direct them to my previous post, but I figure I would expound on what I said there for further clarification.
Here's what I just posted on facebook last night, while thinking this over:
"Looking to strengthen/fix/optimize the function of your pelvic floor? The question should not be "should I squat or should I kegel?" Because there is not one exercise that will strengthen/fix/optimize the pelvic floor. It's a whole body problem and requires a whole body solution."
Squat vs. Kegel is NOT the question we should be asking. We must think of our body as a whole. There is not one exercise that will fix/heal/strength/optimize your pelvic floor because your pelvic floor responds and adapts (whether positively or negatively) to how you move all of your body all of the time. So a squat, or a kegel for that matter, is not going to really do what you hope for it to do if you're not walking and if you're sitting in a desk chair on your sacrum all day, for example.
Let me give you an analogy that may help make this clearer. The kegel vs. squats debate is like debating a high grains/low fat diet vs. a Paleo diet. Only, instead of learning all that goes into the Paleo diet you say that being Paleo means eating red meat all the time and pretty much only red meat. After all, you just read a couple of blog posts on the benefits of red meat, so that MUST be what being Paleo is all about, yeah? Not realizing that red meat is part of the Paleo diet, yes, but it's just one small piece of many different vital nutrients needed and even the red meat that is consumed is not just any old red meat, but a specific type of red meat (grassfed, for example). Eating a bunch of red meat does not make one a Paleo anymore than doing a bunch of squats makes someone have an awesome pelvic floor. Yet, of course squats are a fantastic part of a whole body movement program that optimizes the function of the pelvic floor and the stability of mobility of the pelvis.
Or maybe this one resonates with you more. You know kale is healthy. So you just eat kale, and only kale. All day, every day. And nothing else. Would you really be healthy? Or maybe you eat Snickers bars for the rest of the day and then gorge yourself on kale at night. WOULD YOU REALLY BE HEALTHY? No. You need the nutrients in kale, of course, but you also need a whole spectrum of nutrients throughout the day too.
So let's stop debating squatting vs. kegels and let's start:
Check out some "alignment snacks" HERE for just $5 for a nice way to learn some of these stretches that will in turn help strengthen your pelvic floor (and.... the rest of your body too! The great thing about it being an all body problem is that the all body solution fixes a whole bunch of other crap too!). A few that I suggest:
~Walk this way, stand this way
~All Around the Thighs We Go
~All fo' the pelvic floor
~Leg goes forward, leg goes back
~Stretch the standing muscles
Look familiar? The pregnant waddle. Is this a requirement of pregnancy?
Well, yes, if the muscles along the back side have compensated for the increased load on the front side of the body (baby!)... then an individual most certainly will walk like this. But is she walking like this because she is pregnant or is it possibly because her body has compensated for lack of posterior leg strength with the increasing load on the front of the body by doing the pregnant waddle? I think it's the second one.
It's interesting that people who have never been pregnant have the same issues that are commonly associated with pregnancy. This leads me to believe that they aren't a requirement of pregnancy, but something that occurs because of the way the body moves throughout the amazing journey that is pregnancy.
But who cares how I walk, you say? Well, I do because I want to save you lots of money on your auto insurance, ahem, I mean adult diapers. Just think of me as the gecko of Depends. I also want you to have the widest space for a baby to for through. Because I'm cool like that. There are *super* simple things that we can all do (I'm talking to myself right now… Lindsay- go for a walk!!) to keep the back side strong and help reduce/eliminate some common ailments that tend to go along with pregnancy in our society.
I'm here to tell you that this stuff is not just something you have to put up with because you're pregnant! If we make the shift towards whole body movement in an aligned fashion, we can begin to minimize some "normal" pregnancy ailments. Normal, not natural. These ailments are not, in fact, caused by pregnancy. Despite the common opinion that they are. "I pee my pants because I'm a mom" or worse when a pregnant mom tells her provider that her back hurts (or whatever the ailment may be) and they tell her "sorry, but that's just a normal part of pregnancy." Normal…yes. Because if you look at the general population of preggies… most have the same complaint. But is it a natural requirement as the result of the state of pregnancy? I call B.S.! These ailments are caused by how the body is being carried around. Adding the load (baby!) on the front side is going to exasperate the problems caused by an individual's daily living and moving habits.
Pregnancy is a natural state, but we live in an unnatural world. How our ancestors moved during their childbearing years is drastically different from the way we move today. Or should I say how we DON'T move. What is a natural state has turned, for many, into a state riddled with back pain, SI pain, urinary incontinence, and diastasis recti to name a few. These ailments are normal parts of pregnancy right now because it's also normal to sit all day. To tuck the pelvis. To suck in the gut.
It's simple (and also sort of not, but that's why this is a blog meaning there is much to come!).
1. Get out of your chair! Get a standing work station. Take a walk every hour. If you must sit, sit in various different positions so that your body doesn't get used to just one. Choose the floor to sit on instead of the couch. Park in the back of the parking lot. Walk to close errands. Be creative! Usually the biggest roadblock to change is ourselves. You don't have to go crazy right away, every time we choose to move a little bit differently or more is going to give great benefit!
2. Walk, walk, walk...did I say walk? We are really designed to walk way more than we do. It's the best form of exercise out there! That doesn't mean go from no walking to 5 miles a day. It means work up to more and more daily walking. Several miles a day is best, and it absolutely can be spread out over the span of the day. In fact, I think that's better. I would love to try one of those mile tracker things that so many people have (is it called a fit bit?) because I would love to have my miles added up! And see how little or lot I am getting! It's not just about a once a day thing… it's more about a lifestyle change. More movement throughout the day.
3. Do Restorative Exercise! Stretch , strengthen, and learn proper alignment! The posterior leg muscles are shortened in most non preggies too, so that increased load of pregnancy can really do a number on them without proper alignment. Pregnancy should actually strengthen the back side. Pregnancy=best booty workout of all time. More on that in another blog post sometime in the future. I'll be sharing my fav exercises too, I promise!! I'm speaking at ICAN in March and plan to teach them some of the basic, most important ones. It's free and open to the public and you don't have to be a cesarean or vbac mom, or even pregnant to come. I'll come back and edit this post with the info when I find it!!
4. Read this blog and others about alignment!! katysays.com is a must read for everyone who has a body. So you ghosts are off the hook. I am committed to putting as much information out there on the web as I can in my "spare time." The bulk of my work will always be free to the public. So yeah, read some good alignment blogs!! But also... find a restorative exercise specialist (many do Skype sessions if you can't find one in your area). There is nothing like having someone teach you the intricacies of an exercise so that you can get more bang for your buck out of the exercises. This is coming from someone who was doing the HEAD HANG wrong before my certification week.
Now…go for a walk (I know it's cold, but bundle up or go to the mall or something!) and have a fabulous pregnancy and birth!
Note: very pregnant youtube woman, please contact me and I will give you a free Skype session!! You are beautiful and awesome and I appreciate your willingness to put the waddle on the inter webs! I had my 4 year old take a movie of me pretending to be pregnant and waddling but have not yet figured out how to post it onto the internet. Plus, he's kinda a shaky camera man.
Mama Aligned is Lindsay McCoy.