Tight equals strong, right?
That is just not true when it comes to the most important muscle groups in the female body: Your pelvic floor. In fact, a too toned and too tight pelvic floor is actually a very, very weak and vulnerable pelvic floor. I would say that most, if not all, of the women who come to me for incontinence, prolapse, diastasis recti, back pain, and so many other issues are there because they have hypertonicity in their pelvic floor. This basically means that they’ve been kegeling the bejeezus out of their hoohas in an effort to tighten things up down there and instead of making things better, they’ve made things worse.
Along with that, traditional ways of strengthening our bodies and holding our bodies all lead to hypertonicity as well. So, let’s say you enjoyed decades of Pilates classes and boot camps and you kept on squeezing when they said squeeze and then you felt the burn, well … I hate to tell you this, but all of that probably got you strong in the wrong way. This also goes for how your well-meaning grandma (or your teacher or your mom or the stranger at the department store) told you to stand: “Chin up! Back straight! Butt tucked!” Yep. I know. All of that also made you strong in the wrong way.
Let me break it down for you: Think of your pelvis like a front-loaded bowl of fruit (your organs and tissue being the fruit) and imagine that the center of that bowl is a trampoline-like material. It’s a weird bowl, I know. A magical bowl, if you ask me. Right below the trampoline center of this magical bowl is your hooha and right above it is your spine. What our bodies need from this bowl is for it create support for the spine, protect function of vital organs, and provide suspension for the hooha. Quite a big job, right? Right. This is where the trampoline material comes into play. The job of the pelvic floor is to be bouncy, not tight and not toned. It's not a steel trap. Its job to take the brunt of dynamic movement. Its job is to be resilient.
Let’s learn from the pelvic floor, then. And let’s also take a moment to remind ourselves that the mission of having a tight hooha area has been handed down to us by - get ready for it - experts who were mostly men. And, well, let’s face it. They certainly have placed an emphasis on our nether regions being tight, specifically for their misguided idea of male sexual pleasure. This is misguided because a resilient vagina is actually the epitome of awesome in terms of BOTH female and male pleasure. End of story. So, we can walk around from that advice in 2019, deal? Deal.
Back to what the pelvic floor has to teach us: Resilient strength is the sort of strength that allows us to do all the things women do. There’s not a day that goes by wherein things go as planned. In fact, there has not been a year or a month or a second or an hour where things go as planned. Life is sometimes throwing punches and sometimes throwing roses. But, I never know. I never wake up knowing it’s a roses or a punches kind of day. And, so, I can’t be ready for it in the way that I’d like to think I ought to be. But, guess what? I can swerve.
I can swerve.
Swerving is the only thing that has ever gotten me anywhere. This goes for every other amazing woman I know as well. And isn’t that the beauty of being a woman? We can respond. We can acclimate. We can change our minds. We can redirect. We can hug and we can hold boundaries all in the same breath. We see the gray in a world that is so polarized. And in our own lives, we can experience a truly shitty day and still, somehow, wake up the next day, get dressed (I mean, maybe) and do it all again.
In 2019, in the world in which we live, I have to take a step back and move towards the embrace of the fluid over the static. If I want my communities, my family, and my world to be healthy, I need resiliency, not tautness. I need to be able to bounce back while also standing tall. I need to not break when life asks me to jump or duck.
This month we are celebrating Swerve strength here at MommaStrong. We’ll be digging into true pelvic floor strength and resiliency, along with life strength and resiliency. If you are used to fitness programs that beg you to be static and tight, maybe join a fitness program that asks you to be dynamic and elastic. Join a community of other women who are finding out what it means to be strong for the first time in their life, taking pressure off their joints while they take pressure off their souls.
One month. One tiny workout a day (5 minutes our 15, you pick). And one life changing choice to swerve instead of freeze.