Don’t Become a Number: Get Current on Women’s Health

Katy Santiago Bowman by Katy Santiago Bowman | January 28th, 2010 | 15 Comments
topic: Fitness, Health & Wellness

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.

Weak Bones.

Leaky Bladder.

Fragile Feet.

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. 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.


  1. Wow, thank you for this information. I know many women who will not talk about it, but are affected by a “leaky bladder”. Our own mothers are at a loss for advice if we even dare broach the topic. Most moms would say “Sorry honey, that happens to me, too” or “they make pads for that”!!!

    Imagine a world where the daughters could have the most up-to-date information to share with their moms! That’s my goal for attending your webinar. I’m already signed up. Thank you!

    VickiAnne | January 28th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  2. I’m not at all fond of your practice of printing part of an article and then “Oops! Sorry, now you have to PAY to watch a webinar on the rest of the story.” Not cool. Or am I missing something? Is there a way to move to the next page? Because I haven’t found one.

    Shari | January 29th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  3. Great info. I, too, love the stats in magazines like Men’s and Women’t Health, Cosmo, GQ, etc. I wonder there they all get their stats from?

    Amalaki Juice | February 3rd, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  4. I agree with Shari- I don’t like being teased into starting an article, and then learning that I have to pay to continue. Most of the time Gaiam sends out great articles that are informative, and include a link to a product for sale, and I think that’s OK. We know we’re being advertised to, and accept it. This, however, is not OK.

    Sherry | February 24th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  5. I agree with Shari. This approach seems like the worst kind of bait and switch. Look for the most delicate and emotionally sensitive topics that people care about. Put together a campaign that suggests real sympathy and help and then Wham! slap them with a “Pay me or Forget it” roadblock.

    harnish | February 24th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  6. I totally agree this looks like it’s an article, until you get to the bottom and it tells you that you need to pay $49 to get the information it talks about.
    The article just below it: Profile of Courage: The Inspirational, Odds-Defying Recovery of Member Luis Perez
    Doesn’t ask for $ at the end to get the info it talks about.
    This is going to make me much less likely to read any articles from Gaiam. I won’t be able to tell if all that I’m am reading is a waste of my time, just to find out about a coupon at the end.

    Jen | February 24th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  7. I agree with Shari. Not cool to make you think you’re going to get to read this great article, only to find out it’s basically an ad for the webinar (which is very expensive even with the discount!). Gaiam Life has turned into one big ad instead of actual useful information. I think I will be cancelling it.

    Amy | February 24th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  8. I have to agree with Shari. And then why send an email on Feb 23, when the dates of the seminar are already in the past? along with the cut-off for the discounted cost?

    Sarah | February 24th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  9. I agree with Sari’s comment. I was very anxious to pursue my reading of the article as it is Gaïam’s custom to make available the whole article. It was a slap in the face to realize that this was an infomercial. This practice is not up to what I thought were Gaïam’s standards.

    Michele | February 24th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  10. I regret that I clicked thru and wasted my time reading this. I can’t find the answer to — 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.

    Susan | February 24th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  11. Hi, great info……..I would like to share some other information for all. I know of a product that is Whole Foods Nutritional, No Side Effects, in the Medical Journals and helping many people with bone challenges. Contact me for more info.
    A couple of testimonies: I have a friend that suffered bone jaw damage from taking one of the Prescription Drugs for Osteoporosis. She discovered this other natural Whole Foods Nutritional and within about 6 to8 wks. her Bone Density is back to normal
    I know of this gentleman who is 75yrs. old and is taking the Whole Foods Nutritional and now his Bones Density is that of a 30yrs. old.
    There are so many more……..anyway just wanted to share.

    God Bless

    Shaunnesy Rodriguez | February 24th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  12. why doesn’t she tell us what these exercises are?!?

    Laura | February 24th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  13. As a writing freelancer and marketer, what would be a great idea is to allow ’site members’ the full ride for a webinar and give discounts on products. How do you get the cha-ching for anything nowadays? Accessories. Myself, I’m fully aware of what Kegals are and how to do them. Core, back, foot and ankle exercises, ditto. For those who are unfamiliar, a very bad ending to an article indeed. I can see how a ‘discount’ may have been thought to be a good idea, but no one wants to pay for something you can Google for free. However embarrassing it may be. And it can be especially when you’re at work and already at this site and with a few clicks, wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am you’re signed up for the webinar (which hasn’t already occurred, please check your email blast dates when posting articles, editors).

    Just a suggestion.

    Sara | February 26th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  14. I feel fortunate enough to have ignored the seemingly insignificant issues mentioned in earlier comments. I think they failed to recognize the depth and complexity that surrounds the myriad of health issues we women face, along with the lack of answers from the medical community to adequetely address those issues. I signed up for this webinar class and found it to be worth every single penny and moment spent online to get that TON of information into my hands! The almost 6-hour class over a 3 week period, totally changed my perspective on what I’m currently doing to damage my health, and covered everything that allows me to be more effective in the way I will now move and care for my body as I get older! What Katy Bowman offered in this Women’s Health Issues class could NOT have found containment in such a limited article as was available here. We women are far more 3 dimensional than that! If Katy offers this class again, I would like to encourage every woman who cares about her health to take advantage of Katy’s expertise! TONS of Thanks, Katy!!!

    Lou! | March 10th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  15. I really like what you had to say about Kegel exercise. I think what caught my attention most was pelvic floor disorder. Thanks for the info Katy!

    tessa wu | July 16th, 2011 | Comment Permalink

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