Tag Archive for: pelvic floor dysfunction

MOVE is thrilled to be partnering with Melissa Trauger to provide on-site physical therapy services at the studio to pelvic health and orthopedic populations. 

“We know that a continuum of care is important to our clients as they work to get stronger and care for their unique bodies. Partnering with Melissa means that it will be easy for clients to have collaborative care right in the building. Working with a PT who understands the impact and scope of Pilates and GYROTONIC® exercise is the best service possible for our clients. Not only is Melissa a highly skilled orthopedic and pelvic floor specialist Physical Therapist, she shares our values and commitment to care for our clients. We could not be more excited to welcome her to the studio.”

—Elaine Economou, MOVE Wellness Co-Founder 

“I am extremely excited to partner with MOVE Wellness to provide on-site physical therapy services to the pelvic health and orthopedic populations of Southeast Michigan. My mission is to improve and maintain your quality of life when it comes to your specific goals, as well as, to bring awareness to an aspect of life (ahem, pelvic health) that should be talked and taught about, early and often.”

—Melissa Trauger, Rhapsody of Motion Concierge Physical Therapy

Benefits of physical therapy at MOVE

Collaborating with area physicians and physical therapists is important to providing our clients an excellent continuum of care. Quite often, when clients are working through a particular issue in their body, it is helpful to work in partnership with their physical therapist (or another medical professional like a DO or Physiatrist) to provide manual therapy, assess injuries and collaborate on movement goals. Post surgical clients can benefit in particular. Our scope of practice is movement and working with healthcare professionals for diagnosis and care plans for post-surgery, neurological issues or pain is the best service possible for our clients. 

Long time clients may recall our previous partnership with Julie Simpson of Mend PT so we know how well this kind of partnership can work. We are now so happy to be partnering with Melissa Trauger and Rhapsody of Motion to again offer PT services within MOVE. Melissa works independently inside MOVE Wellness studios, but is knowledgeable about the systems we teach. She is also an eager student of Pilates and GYROTONIC® exercise herself, which is key for us. 

Melissa works with orthopedic issues and has a special focus on pelvic floor dysfunction. We know that this affects both women and men and can play a role in low back pain, and hip issues. Pelvic floor PT can also be part of the solution for imbalances throughout the body. At MOVE we work a lot to help people have a healthy functioning pelvic floor. So much of what we teach focuses on coordinating breath with movement and the pelvic floor is part of the musculature involved in breathing. Working with Melissa can help clients identify pelvic floor imbalances and learn to release the muscles and regain coordination. She will be a wonderful resource for our clients to help resolve a number of issues.

Meet Melissa Trauger

Melissa Trauger is a physical therapist who treats patients with the mindset that everything is connected in the chaos of the body. This view, along with her love of music, led her to finding the rhapsody within the human body. Both require many moving parts working in concert creating harmonious movement.

Melissa received her Doctor of Physical Therapy from the University of Dayton in 2016, and continues her education to diversify her skills when treating pelvic health and orthopedic populations. Her undergraduate was spent at the University of Michigan where she earned a B.S. in Movement Science. She followed that up with several years spent in Chicago working as a massage therapist and personal trainer.

When Melissa isn’t helping her clients relieve their physical pain, she spends her time with her husband, Ryan, and their dog, Coco. She enjoys writing and playing music, running, and providing comedic relief among friends and family.

Start Now

By partnering with MOVE, Melissa can promote early access to physical therapy through individualized care that includes manual therapy, neuromuscular re-education, therapeutic exercise, and more. Please feel free to reach out to Melissa directly via the contact information below to schedule a call and learn more!

Rhapsody of Motion Concierge Physical Therapy
Phone: 734-519-0020
Email: info@rhapsodyofmotion.com
Website: www.rhapsodyofmotion.com
Instagram/Facebook: @rhapsodyofmotion

Book your appointment directly with Melissa online, by email, or by calling 734-519-0020.

Pilates for pelvic floor health

We’re proud to share that this blog post has been published in the April 2022 issue of The Brick Magazine!

One of the most important things to understand about pelvic health is that your pelvis is part of a larger integrated system. Each of us has a unique physical structure. And once we take the time to understand the structure of our bodies and how individual parts work together, developing our overall health and well-being becomes considerably easier.

Equally important is the simple fact that anyone can improve their pelvic floor health through smart, effective movement and exercise. Simple Pilates exercises can help strengthen your pelvic floor and bring more awareness to your body.

Sign up for an introductory package for an assessment of your individual needs and customized instruction.  

A Pilates trainer explaining pelvic anatomy to a client

What is the pelvic floor?

Your pelvic floor is a network of muscles that spread across the bottom of your pelvic cavity like a hammock. They have many functions including supporting the pelvic organs such as the uterus, bladder, and rectum. They also help to withstand increases in pressure that occur in the abdomen with activities such as coughing and sneezing, and they help to enhance the sexual response. These are the muscles you are targeting when doing Kegels. 

Many women have probably heard of Kegels, but did you know that studies have shown that most women are unable to perform a proper Kegel contraction without some education? It takes diligence, awareness, and practice to perform an effective pelvic floor contraction or a Kegel. This is where body awareness and Pilates can be helpful.

Benefits of Pilates for the pelvic floor

  • Releases stress 
  • Relieves low back pain
  • Builds core strength 
  • Helps improve pelvic floor disorders, including urinary incontinence

“How can I tighten my pelvic floor muscles fast?” It’s not just about Kegel exercises

When it comes to your pelvic health, “slow and steady” truly does win the race. Unfortunately, so many of us are taught to approach exercise fast and furiously. So, if you’re one of those people who always assumed that any good exercise requires squeezing the bejesus out of whatever muscle you’re trying to work, congratulations, you don’t have to do that anymore.

True pelvic health means moving beyond the notion of simply doing targeted exercises like Kegels and muscling through things, and instead working more organically, starting with our basic alignment and breath.

Performing isometric exercises like Kegels without a basic understanding of your own structure and the shape and needs of your pelvic floor can actually have a negative impact. Which is why working through pelvic pain or discomfort is never a good idea. The goal is always to reconnect your body’s natural movement system to restore healthy patterns.

A Pilates trainer working with a client on the Cadillac

Gentle Pilates, GYROTONIC® exercise and pelvic floor awareness

Engaging in specific simple exercises on a daily basis will have the greatest impact on your body. Which is why working with someone who has professional expertise can be essential for starting things off right.

Movement professionals such as pelvic health physical therapists, Pilates instructors and GYROTONIC® method trainers can see things in your body and the way you move that you simply can’t or are not yet aware of. Having eyes on your body in that way can help you more quickly unravel any postural issues or imbalances you might have and help you find proper alignment to help you work effectively on your own.

Just becoming aware of your pelvic floor – what it is and how it feels – is a helpful first step for most of us. Because although we think we understand it in theory, many of us very rarely take the time to stop and get a true sense of how it feels. You can help build awareness of the pelvic floor with these four easy steps: 

Step 1: Try this exercise for pelvic floor awareness

Sit upright on a chair with a lengthened spine. Take a few deep breaths, letting your ribs expand on the inhale and contract on the exhale.

Take notice of the bony parts on either side of your pelvis, which are commonly referred to as your “sits bones.” While continuing to sit upright, just gently rock from side to side, from one sits bone to the other. As you do this, try to imagine your Take notice of the bony parts on either side of your pelvis, which are commonly referred to as your “sits bones.” While continuing to sit upright, just gently rock from side to side, from one sits bone to the other. As you do this, try to imagine your tailbone in the back and your pubis symphisis in the front, which is the joint between your two pubic bones. You won’t really be able to feel the tailbone or pubis symphisis, but imagining them centrally situated in relation to your sits bones can give you an overall sense of your pelvic floor.

A MOVE Trainer sitting on a Gyrokinesis stool

Step 2: Gentle engagement of the pelvic floor

Now with all those four points in mind, settle into the middle of your chair again and think about the tissue contained within those four points. That’s what you want to think about when we talk about engaging the pelvic floor. But that engagement should be a subtle sensation, not an intense squeeze.

The muscles and tissue here work differently; it’s not like flexing a bicep or squeezing a glute muscle. Performing gentle Kegels should feel like a lift and narrowing of the pelvic floor tissue rather than a squeeze.

Step 3: Learning to breathe optimally

Breathing. Meditation. Mindfulness. We talk and hear about these concepts a lot, and know they’re important. But it can be hard to really understand why and then put them into practice in ways we find useful.

Breath work is what I like to think of as a “clean slate” exercise. We have little to no sense of how we actually feel or what’s going on with our bodies if we don’t take a moment to breath first. For most of us, we often skip this step simply because we feel like we don’t have the time for it. But beginning with the breath gives us a starting point; a place where we can become aware of what’s happening with our body and can gauge any changes as we progress through movement.

A MOVE Trainer stretching in an X shape on the floor

You can work on breathing while sitting upright or lying down. Start by simply letting your body relax and taking a few easy breaths. And as you breath, notice where you feel the breath expanding in your body. Chest? Ribs? Belly?

From there, picture your full ribcage. And as you breath, think about sending the breath into the back and sides of the ribcage.

Then, imagine your body as similar to a balloon. On the inhale, fill the balloon with air, and then picture the tissue and muscles of your pelvic floor gently lifting with the balloon on the exhale, all while keeping the rest of your body fairly still.

Your abdominals might contract slightly, but otherwise you should try not to move your pelvis, glutes or hip flexors. Keep your bones and bigger muscles still.

Step 4: Gentle breathing and lifting the pelvic floor

It will take some time and practice to do this without automatically trying to force or overwork your muscles. And that’s why starting small with that simple pelvic awareness is important. It helps you build the organic contractions and stimulation you’re aiming for and avoid any bearing down or pushing out. Ultimately, it should feel as though there’s a little sling or hammock lifting everything up and releasing down.

Safe, effective pelvic floor exercises

There are several simple, everyday Pilates exercises focusing on the spine, hips, abdominals and legs that are perfect for building and maintaining pelvic health. And you’ve most likely heard about or tried at least a few of them.

Stretches for the back and spine such as cat stretch, hip rolls, hip release and spinal rotation. Simple abdominal exercises like leg slides, single leg lifts and the side leg series. All of these stretches and exercises can be learned quickly and easily performed at home on a daily basis.

MOVE Co-Founder Elaine Economou doing a hip roll exercise

Learn pelvic health exercises with gentle Pilates training

The primary reason we encourage newcomers at MOVE to sign up for an introductory package is because it’s hands down the best way for us to assess your individual needs and help you develop a safe, effective routine going forward.

One size does not fit all when it comes to our bodies and our pelvic health (or anything else for that matter), which makes customized instruction essential. Having expert eyes properly assess your body’s movement patterns and then having a one-on-one conversation with someone about your individual lifestyle and health goals is something we all need and deserve.

A Pilates Reformer small group class

Private Pilates training vs. small group classes

For some people, starting with private training to get that extra individual support works best. And for others, signing up for gentle and beginner level Pilates classes and Gyrokinesis classes after an initial assessment is the perfect way to get hands-on training in a small, supportive group environment.

Ready to find that pelvic lift? Call our studio at 734-224-2560 or email us at office@movewellness.com to sign up for an introductory session today.

There will be no pelvic floor left behind!

Pilates for pelvic floor health

We’re proud to share that this blog post has been published in the April 2022 issue of The Brick Magazine!

One of the most important things to understand about pelvic health is that your pelvis is part of a larger integrated system. Each of us has a unique physical structure. And once we take the time to understand the structure of our bodies and how individual parts work together, developing our overall health and well-being becomes considerably easier.

Equally important is the simple fact that anyone can improve their pelvic floor health through smart, effective movement and exercise. Simple Pilates exercises can help strengthen your pelvic floor and bring more awareness to your body.

Sign up for an introductory package for an assessment of your individual needs and customized instruction.  

A Pilates trainer explaining pelvic anatomy to a client

What is the pelvic floor?

Your pelvic floor is a network of muscles that spread across the bottom of your pelvic cavity like a hammock. They have many functions including supporting the pelvic organs such as the uterus, bladder, and rectum. They also help to withstand increases in pressure that occur in the abdomen with activities such as coughing and sneezing, and they help to enhance the sexual response. These are the muscles you are targeting when doing Kegels. 

Many women have probably heard of Kegels, but did you know that studies have shown that most women are unable to perform a proper Kegel contraction without some education? It takes diligence, awareness, and practice to perform an effective pelvic floor contraction or a Kegel. This is where body awareness and Pilates can be helpful.

Benefits of Pilates for the pelvic floor

  • Releases stress 
  • Relieves low back pain
  • Builds core strength 
  • Helps improve pelvic floor disorders, including urinary incontinence

“How can I tighten my pelvic floor muscles fast?” It’s not just about Kegel exercises

When it comes to your pelvic health, “slow and steady” truly does win the race. Unfortunately, so many of us are taught to approach exercise fast and furiously. So, if you’re one of those people who always assumed that any good exercise requires squeezing the bejesus out of whatever muscle you’re trying to work, congratulations, you don’t have to do that anymore.

True pelvic health means moving beyond the notion of simply doing targeted exercises like Kegels and muscling through things, and instead working more organically, starting with our basic alignment and breath.

Performing isometric exercises like Kegels without a basic understanding of your own structure and the shape and needs of your pelvic floor can actually have a negative impact. Which is why working through pelvic pain or discomfort is never a good idea. The goal is always to reconnect your body’s natural movement system to restore healthy patterns.

A Pilates trainer working with a client on the Cadillac

Gentle Pilates, GYROTONIC® exercise and pelvic floor awareness

Engaging in specific simple exercises on a daily basis will have the greatest impact on your body. Which is why working with someone who has professional expertise can be essential for starting things off right.

Movement professionals such as pelvic health physical therapists, Pilates instructors and GYROTONIC® method trainers can see things in your body and the way you move that you simply can’t or are not yet aware of. Having eyes on your body in that way can help you more quickly unravel any postural issues or imbalances you might have and help you find proper alignment to help you work effectively on your own.

Just becoming aware of your pelvic floor – what it is and how it feels – is a helpful first step for most of us. Because although we think we understand it in theory, many of us very rarely take the time to stop and get a true sense of how it feels. You can help build awareness of the pelvic floor with these four easy steps: 

Step 1: Try this exercise for pelvic floor awareness

Sit upright on a chair with a lengthened spine. Take a few deep breaths, letting your ribs expand on the inhale and contract on the exhale.

Take notice of the bony parts on either side of your pelvis, which are commonly referred to as your “sits bones.” While continuing to sit upright, just gently rock from side to side, from one sits bone to the other. As you do this, try to imagine your Take notice of the bony parts on either side of your pelvis, which are commonly referred to as your “sits bones.” While continuing to sit upright, just gently rock from side to side, from one sits bone to the other. As you do this, try to imagine your tailbone in the back and your pubis symphisis in the front, which is the joint between your two pubic bones. You won’t really be able to feel the tailbone or pubis symphisis, but imagining them centrally situated in relation to your sits bones can give you an overall sense of your pelvic floor.

A MOVE Trainer sitting on a Gyrokinesis stool

Step 2: Gentle engagement of the pelvic floor

Now with all those four points in mind, settle into the middle of your chair again and think about the tissue contained within those four points. That’s what you want to think about when we talk about engaging the pelvic floor. But that engagement should be a subtle sensation, not an intense squeeze.

The muscles and tissue here work differently; it’s not like flexing a bicep or squeezing a glute muscle. Performing gentle Kegels should feel like a lift and narrowing of the pelvic floor tissue rather than a squeeze.

Step 3: Learning to breathe optimally

Breathing. Meditation. Mindfulness. We talk and hear about these concepts a lot, and know they’re important. But it can be hard to really understand why and then put them into practice in ways we find useful.

Breath work is what I like to think of as a “clean slate” exercise. We have little to no sense of how we actually feel or what’s going on with our bodies if we don’t take a moment to breath first. For most of us, we often skip this step simply because we feel like we don’t have the time for it. But beginning with the breath gives us a starting point; a place where we can become aware of what’s happening with our body and can gauge any changes as we progress through movement.

A MOVE Trainer stretching in an X shape on the floor

You can work on breathing while sitting upright or lying down. Start by simply letting your body relax and taking a few easy breaths. And as you breath, notice where you feel the breath expanding in your body. Chest? Ribs? Belly?

From there, picture your full ribcage. And as you breath, think about sending the breath into the back and sides of the ribcage.

Then, imagine your body as similar to a balloon. On the inhale, fill the balloon with air, and then picture the tissue and muscles of your pelvic floor gently lifting with the balloon on the exhale, all while keeping the rest of your body fairly still.

Your abdominals might contract slightly, but otherwise you should try not to move your pelvis, glutes or hip flexors. Keep your bones and bigger muscles still.

Step 4: Gentle breathing and lifting the pelvic floor

It will take some time and practice to do this without automatically trying to force or overwork your muscles. And that’s why starting small with that simple pelvic awareness is important. It helps you build the organic contractions and stimulation you’re aiming for and avoid any bearing down or pushing out. Ultimately, it should feel as though there’s a little sling or hammock lifting everything up and releasing down.

Safe, effective pelvic floor exercises

There are several simple, everyday Pilates exercises focusing on the spine, hips, abdominals and legs that are perfect for building and maintaining pelvic health. And you’ve most likely heard about or tried at least a few of them.

Stretches for the back and spine such as cat stretch, hip rolls, hip release and spinal rotation. Simple abdominal exercises like leg slides, single leg lifts and the side leg series. All of these stretches and exercises can be learned quickly and easily performed at home on a daily basis.

MOVE Co-Founder Elaine Economou doing a hip roll exercise

Learn pelvic health exercises with gentle Pilates training

The primary reason we encourage newcomers at MOVE to sign up for an introductory package is because it’s hands down the best way for us to assess your individual needs and help you develop a safe, effective routine going forward.

One size does not fit all when it comes to our bodies and our pelvic health (or anything else for that matter), which makes customized instruction essential. Having expert eyes properly assess your body’s movement patterns and then having a one-on-one conversation with someone about your individual lifestyle and health goals is something we all need and deserve.

A Pilates Reformer small group class

Private Pilates training vs. small group classes

For some people, starting with private training to get that extra individual support works best. And for others, signing up for gentle and beginner level Pilates classes and Gyrokinesis classes after an initial assessment is the perfect way to get hands-on training in a small, supportive group environment.

Ready to find that pelvic lift? Call our studio at 734-224-2560 or email us at office@movewellness.com to sign up for an introductory session today.

There will be no pelvic floor left behind!

Being part of a continuum of care network in and around our Ann Arbor community is an essential part of the wellness experience we provide at MOVE. And we are so grateful for partners like the healthcare professionals at IHA who are committed to providing people with opportunities to have open discussions about their health.

A special women’s health series event on menopause

On Tuesday, May 14, MOVE and IHA are co-sponsoring a free event at MOVE Wellness in Ann Arbor focused on managing menopause. To help frame our conversation for that evening, two of the event’s speakers offer their initial thoughts on menopause and sexual health, and their connection to overall wellness. Event details can be found below as well.

Common myths and misconceptions about menopause

Having open conversations about powerful phases of our lives is important to us at MOVE. There are so many women’s issues that simply don’t get afforded the time and honest treatment they deserve. Being able to have in-depth discussions about issues like menopause is empowering. It helps women care for themselves and live healthier, happier lives.

A conversation with Elaine and Bridget

ELAINE

Menopause is a remarkably profound phase of life for women. For many, it coincides with children leaving home and the fundamental effect that has on our identity. It’s also characterized by reflection and can lead to more substantive considerations of our quality of life.

Dr. Long, what are four or five of the biggest misconceptions or myths about menopause that you see or hear regularly?

BRIDGET

First and foremost, that life will never be the same and that menopause is something to dread. And that’s underscored by additional misconceptions such as “my sex life is over” and “it’s too late to get healthy or lose weight.” Many women also believe that prescription hormone replacements are dangerous, which isn’t the case, and meanwhile ignore abnormal uterine bleeding during menopause when they should be having it evaluated.

All of these myths can cause harm to women because they can lead to a range of health issues including depression, fatigue, osteoporosis, cardiac disease and even cancer in some cases.

ELAINE

How individual of an experience is menopause for each woman?

BRIDGET

Although many symptoms are commonly shared, menopause is a completely unique experience for each woman.

Increasing strength and health during and after menopause

ELAINE

In my 20 years as a trainer, I’ve seen countless women at age 50 or older get as strong as they’ve ever been in their lives through Pilates and GYROTONIC®.  Every one of them wished they had started ten years earlier because of the powerful impact on their fitness and strength. So, I’ve seen firsthand the misconception that you can’t be fit and healthy after this phase of your life proven wrong.

We have female and male clients we train with who are in their 50s, 60s, and 70s and even some at 80 or 90 who have been working with us for 10 years, many of whom feel as fit as they’ve ever been in their lives. And it’s such a gift for our team to be a part of that experience.

Do you have a specific example of a patient you’ve worked with who successfully moved past one of those misconceptions about menopause and how she did it?  

BRIDGET

I specifically remember a delightful patient in her late 50s who was moderately overweight and had a family history of osteoporosis. Her bone density showed significant osteopenia, which is bone loss. After extensive counseling regarding her life risk of cardiovascular disease and bone fracture, both of which had the potential to limit her independence, she chose to join a gym and work with a trainer who designed a program customized for her needs. She presented to my office a year later and told me she felt like her life had been saved. She realized that what she ate and what she did had major impacts during menopause.

She was happy she’d lost weight, but mostly she was happy about being strong. She was really enjoying life as she headed into her 60s, maybe more than ever before.

Overcoming the stigma and fear of menopause

ELAINE

“Menopause” can be such a loaded word. Do you find that the word itself is a stumbling block for women? Do you ever find yourself working to help women redefine the word? Or do you find yourself steering them toward a different word or phrase entirely like “sexual health”?

BRIDGET

From what I’ve seen, the word sparks dread in women. I try to explain to them that menopause is simply a life phase – much like puberty. It can be miserable, or it can be empowering if you embrace it and take control of it.

Menopause is a time in life, perhaps more than any other,  when you “reap what you sow.” If you prioritize a healthy lifestyle, the benefits are significant. If you don’t, the problems can be exponential.

Managing menopause with family members

ELAINE

As a woman married to a man living in a house with my three sons, I’ve worked hard to help them understand the various cycles and phases in a woman’s life so that they might be in touch with any of their own life transitions.  And it isn’t easy. Because the cultural pressure to qualify what being a woman is or isn’t or should or shouldn’t be is complicated. But I keep it simple and try to share the biochemistry of the process to help normalize conversations and topics.  

Can you talk a little bit about the role of family for women experiencing menopause, particularly when it comes to any men in our lives?

BRIDGET

Relationships, particularly with a partner during menopause, require a lot of communication. It’s challenging, and I find that women often just give up. I feel that having the opportunity for open communication with their physician and realizing there are options to ease this transition can be life-changing. Intimacy is important and can make for a happier life, but I always tell my patients that they can define that intimacy with their partner. And it’s not the same for everyone.

The role of community in aging and menopause

ELAINE

How important do you think having access to a supportive community is for women experiencing menopause?

BRIDGET

It’s incredibly important. There is power in numbers, and opportunities to learn from one another.  It makes us realize that we’re normal.

ELAINE

I completely agree. Connecting with other supportive and accepting women helps in so many ways. And I believe that building a supportive community around fitness can help with accountability and troubleshooting. We love watching women support each other in classes as they move deeper into the Pilates repertoire. We regularly hear them say that they’re doing things they never thought they could do.

The relationship between sexual health and physical activity

Can you talk a bit about the relationship between women’s sexual health as they age and physical activity? What are the benefits of movement for women experiencing various symptoms and challenges related to menopause?

BRIDGET

There’s a direct relationship between physical activity and sexual health. The endorphins make us feel good, and exercise makes us feel good about ourselves. Women are complex, especially when it comes to sex drive. We need to feel “sexy” and good about ourselves.

ELAINE

Agreed. Our mission is to help people move their bodies in ways that they enjoy so that they can lead a life they love. Research shows that we commit to those healthy behaviors that we enjoy and that make us feel good.

This has impacted me personally. Feeling strong and moving my body in ways I enjoy, rather than how I feel I “should” has impacted how I feel about myself overall. It feels a bit like shedding a skin, leaving behind the pressure to conform. It’s wonderful to experience what we’re always working to help other women feel at MOVE. What a gift.

What movement instructors and trainers can do to help during menopause

ELAINE

Do you have any advice for movement instructors working with women experiencing the symptoms of menopause? What can movement professionals do to better support clients in this space?

BRIDGET

I think as our bodies transition through menopause, movement that focuses on core muscle retention and flexibility is most important for maintaining our health and feeling good. Keeping our pelvic floors strong and working to maintain abdomen and back muscles are super important.

ELAINE

Right, and from the training perspective, there are clear dos and don’ts which is why working with instructors and trainers with a deep knowledge of the body and these issues is so important. For example, many people are afraid to exercise after menopause if they’ve received an osteoporosis diagnosis. But with proper, safe training, you can actually mitigate further bone loss.

Demystifying pelvic floor health and the role of Pilates and GYROTONIC® method

ELAINE

What’s one thing you wish everyone knew about pelvic floor health?  

BRIDGET

It requires maintenance like any other set of muscles in your body. You must exercise it to maintain its strength.  

ELAINE

I couldn’t agree more. Pelvic floor health is important, and often misunderstood in everyday practice. Especially because each woman’s body and how she carries it is unique. Many women do a ton of kegel exercises, which could help in particular instances, but could also cause more of a problem in others. As Pilates and GYROTONIC® instructors, we work to help women at all stages of life understand how to care for their pelvic floors in a more organic way. Improper training can lead to low back pain, SI joint instability and other issues.

What are some of the other resources available to women experiencing sexual health challenges that you’d like to see more people take advantage of?

BRIDGET

IHA has started a new genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM) program that I feel is incredibly innovative in its approach to managing sexual health during menopause. Our consultants will discuss symptoms, causes and management of sexual problems in menopause with patients.

ELAINE

That’s actually great to hear. Quite often we hear women (who may not have even mentioned incontinence when they started working with us) say after a few weeks or months of training that they no longer “sneeze and pee.” Which is a funny diagnostic, but also a very pragmatic one.  Pilates and GYROTONIC® help with this because they focus on organizing breathing and spinal movement to support core training.

Why is tackling this particular topic important to you personally?

BRIDGET

I am now a menopausal woman. Life is short, and I want to enjoy every day of it!

ELAINE

Yes! As a woman experiencing perimenopause, I feel like the last year has brought a wave of new physical experiences and symptoms, many of them surprises, and all of which have made it necessary for me to stop and reevaluate the “why” behind my own fitness and movement.

If you could provide women with one simple takeaway about menopause and their sexual health, what would it be?  

BRIDGET

That there is help! Managing the symptoms requires work, but the rewards are well worth it.

The healing power of movement

By working toward a healthy relationship with their bodies, women can move through menopause with the strength and knowledge they need to care for themselves and celebrate the power and beauty in their bodies during this unique phase of life.

It’s also important to remember that slow and steady wins the race for healthy behaviors and a joyful life. Moving slowly and intentionally as we take steps to move more, eat well and love our bodies for all that they’ve done for us is foundational … at any stage of life.

We hope you’ll join us for this very special evening of honest conversation, empowerment and perhaps even enlightenment.

Managing Menopause: Improving Your Sexual Health

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

6 p.m. – Wine & hors d’oeuvres, 6:30 – 9 p.m. – Presentation

Location: MOVE Wellness Studios, 3780 Jackson Rd., Ann Arbor, Michigan

Speakers:

Elaine Economou, MOVE Wellness co-founder and CEO

Jody Jones, MD, IHA Canton Obstetrics & Gynecology

G. Bridget Long, MD, IHA Associates in Gynecology & Obstetrics – West Arbor

Lisa Morris, MD, IHA Associates in Gynecology & Obstetrics – Arbor Park & Brighton

Topics: Vaginal pain with intercourse, vaginal atrophy, MonaLisa Touch® treatments, pelvic floor dysfunction, mindfulness and breathing exercises

Register for the event today.

Interested in learning more about how MOVE can help you start your own health and wellness journey through movement? Sign up for an introductory package today or contact us at 734-761-2306 or office@movewellness.com.

Inner Pelvic Health | A New Approach to the Squat

By Mia Munroe

 

The Prevalence of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

Pelvic floor dysfunction is becoming all too prevalent, affecting women in every stage of life, and unfortunately is acknowledged as the norm. Incontinence is not comfortably discussed among women yet the growing number of various adult bladder control products is rising steadily. Mainly following childbirth, varying degrees of prolapse severity (different inner organs falling out of place) is a frightening reality for too many women. The female body was built to handle childbirth and bounce back to full recovery, yet this appears to be no longer the case. It seems apparent that perhaps it is our lifestyle habits that no longer support our pelvic health. By approaching inner pelvic healing from a logical and comprehensive standpoint based on its design and uses, there are alternative answers to healing damage that typically stems from childbirth.

Ineffective Treatments for Pelvic Floor Health

In my exercise teaching experience, I found not only that pelvic floor issues have become the norm following childbirth but the treatments are ineffective and in many cases harmful. Surgically implanting slings and mesh suspension systems, wearing pessary insertions, and injecting bulking agents more commonly used in facial plastic surgery, are some of the current choices offered by traditional medicine. As I began researching and discussing the issue more openly with my clients, I heard Kegel exercises were, if anything, found to be frustrating and seldom reaching beyond a superficial fix of bladder control. The less invasive yet initial option of “X number of Kegels per day” has failed to be effective on it’s own and could even be argued as detrimental to pelvic floor health.

Extensive anatomical research revealed slightly differing graphical interpretations. Its given label of the pelvic floor denotes a complex group of muscles layered and designed to work together in ways that differ depending on the specified function. Where the traditional Kegel exercise is most often learned by isolating the Kegel muscle (pubo-coccygeous), stopping your flow of urine, in truth, that is but one component of a complex family of muscles with differing yet definable actions. Documentation shows Alfred Kegel working with patients primarily using a perineometer (a phallic shaped balloon used to measure and exercise the muscles of the pelvic floor). In actuality, ‘kegeling’ around nothing results in a tight, weak pelvic floor.  Consider the dissatisfaction of chewing with nothing in your mouth. Perhaps if the labeling of these muscles weren’t limited by being called “a floor”, the potential for isolating and emphasizing certain areas along the natural cylindrical shape would be better understood. 

Letting Go of the Kegel and Embracing the Squat

By incorporating movement in one’s legs, pelvis, and spine supported by deep breath work, I teach cylindricization (extending the base downwards and narrowing the top upwards), in either a seated or standing position. With repetitive practice and proper use of breath, one can learn to simultaneously flex at the top and extend at the base. Deep inner pelvic muscles exist to not only to lift but to extend or cylindricize the vaginal canal. However, accessing this level of sophistication led me to what may be the most important component missing from our pelvic health – the opposite of a “Kegel”, which is squatting.

All muscles become stronger when stretched deeply. Unfortunately multiple squatting practices have sociologically disappeared. We no longer harvest our own food and the ones who do, sit on a tractor. Waste cannot be properly eliminated while sitting on a toilet, currently our only social and economic choice (with the exception of many Asian countries). Is it possible that all these near universal changes have contributed to tight, weak pelvic floors? Certain cultures, unlike our own, do embrace squatting as the preferred position during childbirth. Yet this practice is only recognized in a handful of states that accept midwifery.

Our sedentary lifestyle tightens our hips and knees, making squatting difficult for some but not impossible. There are ways to modify a weight-bearing squat by using pillows underneath the sitz bones and positioning ones weight either forward onto ones hands or backward by hanging onto a door jam. Anyone can find their own comfortable squat by adjusting leg width and pointing ones toes either straight front or slightly out. Finding the correct modifications will take pressure off of fragile knees and avoid over-stretching tight hips. As I worked with more and more clients, results have proven that alternating squatting and standing with one’s legs strongly extended will in time result in taking pressure off this central mid-pelvic region. I always insist on completing a squat by standing with the legs as close together as possible if not touching. It is afterwards that one will feel a deep internal lift taking pressure off of the bladder and lower organs.

“Perhaps the best approach to these pelvic disorders could be reversed by letting go of the Kegel and embracing the squat.”

 

Mia Munroe is a GYROKINESIS® Master Trainer. She will be teaching two GYROKINESIS® for Pelvic Floor Health classes at MOVE Wellness Studios State Street on Monday, June 18 and Wednesday, June 20th from 6:00-7:30pm. They are open to the public and all levels. CLICK HERE to sign up

Gyrokinesis Instructors can take the GYROKINESIS® Applications for Pelvic Floor Health Workshop with Mia Munroe on June 18-20 from 2-6PM. CLICK HERE to sign up.

 

This article was originally published in “Healing our World” from the Hippocrates Institute