This post was written by my friend Barbara Loomis LMT, RES, aka “Alignment Monkey” and goddess of all things related to pelvic health. 

 “This is my email response to a woman who asked what I thought about using vaginal weights to strengthen the pelvic floor.  For the record,  this is not a post promoting the use of vaginal weights or Kegel exercises.  It is a post explaining that there is a better way to restore pelvic floor health-a more natural way. “

As a  Restorative Exercise Specialist, my approach when working with pelvic floor weakness is to bring the body into alignment (through Restorative Exercise™ and natural movement).  When you  move naturally throughout the day, the pelvic floor responds to the loads placed on it.  You don’t need to “spot treat” the pelvic floor. Strengthening should happen naturally.  If your pelvic floor isn’t responding appropriately then perhaps it’s because you’re not allowing it to function as a whole with the rest of your body.

When you focus on the pelvic floor through vaginal weights or Kegels, you isolate only one piece of a complex system.  By spot treating the pelvic floor, you leave out other very important players in pelvic floor health which are the respiratory diaphragm, multifidus, transverse abdominis, gluteus maximus, lateral rotators of the hips and the feet (yes the feet!). What you may end up with when you spot treat with vaginal weights or several hundred Kegels a day is a hypertonic pelvic floor.  Short muscles don’t equal strong muscles. Muscles need to be at the correct length (not too short and not too long) for optimal force generation.

Another thing to think about is that if you are sitting or standing with a posteriorly tilted pelvis or have a counter-nutated sacrum you’re not allowing the uterosacral ligaments (USL) to do their job. When the pelvis is in neutral the uterus is suspended by the USL.  Ligaments need proper direction of load to stimulate the correct balance of collagen production. One of the main supporting ligaments of the uterus is the uterosacral ligament, and if the USLs aren’t loaded correctly because you are sitting on your tailbone (post tilted pelvis) the  ligaments loose their strength and resiliency.  How can the USL suspend the uterus if the uterus is sitting on the USL? It can’t! So it makes sense  with a prolapsed uterus to support from above instead of just focusing on walling organs in with a tight pelvic floor.

The body is beautifully designed to hold in our organs without artificial weight training, we have prolapses because we aren’t using our bodies the way they’re designed to be used. By honoring the biomechanical design of your body and using it the way nature intended-minimizing sitting and avoid wearing positive heeled shoes (read about what high heels do to your uterus here), moving in alignment and changing our societal beliefs about how women should sit and walk (tailbone tucked, feet close together-you know, “like a lady”). Otherwise, we aren’t getting to the root of the problem.  We are not broken, we just have to stop getting in our own way.

As far as helping women identify their pelvic floor, I use stance to do so, not weights. When you breathe naturally (expanding the ribcage in a circumference with ribcage aligned over neutral pelvis) the pelvic floor elastically loads and your body responds by building the strength needed for YOUR particular body mass not an arbitrary weight.

Biomechanist Katy Bowman sums it up so well, “The pelvic floor is under constant load, you shouldn’t have to train it.  If it’s not responding its positionally not able to do so.  Positionally meaning, it’s position to the ground or it’s sarcomere position.”

Want to learn more:

Alignment Snacks, All Fo’ the Pelvic Flo’, Walk This Way, Stand This Way, and Frankie Says: Relax The Psoas,Leg Goes Forward, Leg Goes Back.  These 30 minute classes help to release the muscles that are keeping your pelvis from being in neutral and help strengthen the muscles that will support your pelvic floor.

It’s always best to have someone trained in Restorative Exercise™ look at your alignment objectively, and give you guidance.  To find a Restorative Exercise™ Specialist in your area click here.  If you can’t find one in your area, I offer SKYPE appointments- click here.  I also see clients at my Portland, Oregon office.

Watch Katy Bowman demystify the pelvic floor here:

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