There’s a children’s book by one of my favorite authors, Roald Dahl, called The BFG. It stands for Big Friendly Giant, a giant who uses fabulously made up silly words. Let me introduce you to my BFGs of PFD:
- Wearing heeled shoes
- Sitting on your tailbone, or standing with your tailbone under
- Thrusting your ribs forward and/or shoulders back in order to “stand up straight”
- Sucking in your stomach or otherwise creating a dysfunction in the abdominal muscles
- Pelvic surgery to “fix” pfd
These are the Big Friendly Giants of the pelvic floor but unfortunately, unlike the beloved creature in Dahl’s book, they are incredibly false friends. They speak a gobbledygook language to the insides of our body and leave trails of miscommunication in our nervous system until it cannot function efficiently. Culturally, we have adopted these ways of being as “normal”, accepted, unquestioned, mainstream…and they remain as such sometimes even when we go to the doctor after our bladder has fallen outside our body or our uterus has slipped down into the vaginal canal or we can no longer take a poo without straining because our colon has been pinched off.
Your body, in its naturalness, is perfectly designed for efficiency of movement – because movement is critical to survival. The pelvic floor, whether you are male or female, is designed to support the organs of your torso, the expansion/contraction of your lungs when you breathe, the expansion/contraction of your digestive system, the expansion/contraction of your reproductive system, the fluidity or your lymphatic system, and even the pulsations of nerves through the lumbar plexus. That is a lot of natural “exercise” that happens 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week for as long as you live. The problem begins when we habitually place our bones out of their “optimal bony alignment” (thanks Mark Grayson) so that the soft, flexible tissues have to work harder and harder to do their jobs. How do you feel when you have to work harder and harder to do the same job and you get no vacation? Yeah, it isn’t so pleasant. Your tissues eventually have to rebel (pain) or stop working (constipation, prolapse) to get your attention.
Too many of my students are women who went to the doctor in their 40s with PFD and instead of the issue being treated as a whole body alignment issue, it is treated as a medical one (or worse, one you can’t avoid because it is “hereditary”). Guess what the cures are for medical issues? Right – drugs and surgery. What happens when a medical treatment is being used as treatment for an alignment issue? Well, first of all the alignment issue does not go away and second of all, the body has now been through even MORE neurological gobbledygook in the form of scalpels and stitches and sometimes even MESH HAMMOCKS. To top if all off, the whole body alignment issue is still never treated as such even after the surgery (ie, physical therapy is not prescribed), so people go back to doing whatever they were doing before the surgery (because they are CURED, right?) without any re-education or reorganization for the neuro-muscular-skeletal system.
These are crimes against the benevolent pelvic floor. And they make me sad.
Poor pelvic floor. Just trying to make it easy to poo, pee, have sex, have babies, dance, squat, flex, extend…and for what? Punishment!
Men are not immune to these trials (I mean, I know some old guys who pee and poo their pants), but women suffer earlier and are subjected to more invasive medical treatments (think hysterectomy – which decreases estrogen in the body – which further decreases cellular vibrancy in the fascia…see the dominoes?).
The ways our culture has shackled women in their bodies is startling. As a hobby anthropologist, and an alignment nerd who likes studying non-industrialized postures, I really am interested the socio-cultural changes that have occurred throughout history. The evolution of religious piousness (manners and etiquette), fear of sexuality, hyperfocus on physical appearance for beauty (fear of growing old or being unattractive), fear of women’s power (to bleed yet not be wounded, to push another human from her body, to speak her mind), and the evolution of modern medicine, have caged women’s bodies. They are each attempts to further cripple the divine feminine spirit which flows through us.
Let me step off my soap box and return to the message at hand.
Respect the innate awesomeness which is your pelvic floor; ditch your BFGs, the cages that create confusion in your nervous system. Then get some alignment training. Here is a super-simple video with an even simpler way you can get started RIGHT NOW making your PF happy again. Peace.
Move Your DNA Katy Bowman, MS 2014