I love the section some magazines have where they list interesting and fun statistics, like … 48: Number of bugs eaten per year in your sleep. 3,154: Number of texts sent by the average teenager (per month). 14: Number of states visited in an average lifetime.
I have some statistics for you, and I assure you, nobody’s laughing.
80: The percentage of women who will suffer a pelvic floor disorder in their lifetime.
1 in 9: The number of women who will have surgery on their pelvic floor.
50: The percentage of women who, after having a first surgery, will have a second, third, or fourth surgery for the same issue.
10 million: The number of Americans estimated to have osteoporosis. 8 million are women.
25: The percentage of us who experience debilitating foot pain, RIGHT NOW.
Are these the burdens of being female?
The plight of the woman seems like an eternal struggle. We can’t be the CEO of a corporation because we have to have a child. We can’t be a firefighter because we don’t have the strength. We can’t pee standing up … and I really wanted to do this one as a kid. But as we make progress on most gender-related issues, we still seem to be failing in the genetics arena. Sorry about your bone density – you just don’t have enough space for minerals in those tiny bones! You and your mom have bunions? Well that’s just genetic. Pee when you laugh? Or sneeze? Or walk? That’s just the penalty of having a baby, of getting older, and – you got it – being a woman.
Now, what if I told you that your bones were actually strong and big enough to maintain your bone density, however, the posture you are choosing to stand in is signaling your bones to weaken? What if I told you that your foot pain, your plantar fasciitis, your neuroma, or your bunion is caused by how you walk? And, that your mother’s bunion is caused by how she walks? And, you learned to walk by watching her. What if I told you that there was one thing, one habit you have that you do every day, that is causing your organs to move down, your bladder to fail, your lower back to hurt and your hip joints to die?
Well, that’s what I am telling you.
Women’s health, while making huge progress in some areas, is progressing like a limping slug in others. As a biomechanical scientist specializing in pelvic floor physics, I am continuously appalled by how misinformed people are regarding their own equipment. The muscles in your pelvic floor have very important jobs. First, they keep your bathroom functions running … uh, smoothly. Secondly, they support the weight of your pelvic floor and abdominal organs. This is a lot of work for this complex group of muscles. And, if you ask most medical and exercise experts how to strengthen these muscles, they will give you the same exercise: the Kegel.
Named by OBGYN Dr. Arnold Kegel, the Kegel exercise is a contraction of some of the pelvic floor muscles. I doubt that he invented it. In fact, I’m pretty sure people had been practicing Kegel exercises for hundreds of years before it had a name. I want to name a muscle action after myself, too. How about lifting the second toe? Let’s call that the Bowman. We’ll see if it sticks.
Anyhow, the Kegel seemed like a good solution to increase the tone in the pelvic floor back in 1948, following Dr. Kegel’s creation of a device that measured the pressure on the pelvic floor. In the last sixty years, however, there has been much more evidence, research, and anatomical understanding of this area, which has shown that the Kegel, while providing a short-term solution, actually creates a greater problem later on, both in pelvic floor function and with sacroiliac pain. Yet I bet most of you, when asking your doctor, favorite movement teacher, or friend what to do about your incontinence, will be given this out-dated, situation-worsening exercise.
In the age of information, it is time for women to understand how their bodies work and what simple things they can do to take back their health. No more hearsay! Here’s the real, most up-to-date science on what pelvic floor muscles, bones and the tissues of the feet need to stay functioning well. You might be blown away by what you didn’t know and how quickly you can improve your health.
3 women’s health myths, BUSTED
- Pelvic Floor Disorder does NOT come from having babies! Many women give birth and have no trouble, and women who have not given birth experience the same quantities of pelvic floor disorder.
- Osteoporosis is not an all-over bone disease, but an indication of where your bones are being loaded properly and where they are not. You need to know where in your body your mineral density is low to design an osteogenic (bone generating) program that is specific to your bones. Foot pain can be significantly reduced through exercising the feet!
- Twenty-five percent of the number of muscles and bones are from the ankle down. Using your feet while exercising the rest of your body doesn’t do much for the health of the feet – they need their own set of exercises.