Women's Health Issues

Pelvic Floor Issues: These can be incontinence, bladder prolapse, uterine prolapse, hernia.

4 Fast Fixes for Pelvic Floor Disorder

The number of American women with at least one pelvic floor disorder will increase from 28.1 million in 2010 to 43.8 million in 2050. During this time period, the number of women with UI will increase 55% from 18.3 million to 28.4 million. For fecal incontinence, the number of affected women will increase 59% from 10.6 to 16.8 million, and the number of women with POP will increase 46% from 3.3 to 4.9 million. The highest projections for 2050 estimate that 58.2 million women will have at least one pelvic floor disorder, with 41.3 million with UI, 25.3 million with fecal incontinence, and 9.2 million with POP.

In case you were wondering, POP stands for Pelvic Organ Prolapse (lesser known than the more commonly used acronym for organ prolapse, WTF!) Holy cow, ladies. It's time we change course of this slow moving ship called Women's Health. If the existing treatments are "scientifically proven to work", then how do you explain the doubling of incidence in the next forty years? Let's get off this crazy ride try something new. As promised, I am giving you some homework to start right away.

1. If you have an organ prolapsing, you must reduce your impact activities until you have better muscular strength. Once the organ is prolapsing, it is clear that you don't have the strength to hold up your organs. True, your ligaments can carry the load for awhile, but here's the thing about ligaments:

Your ligaments cannot, ever, shrink back to their original position. They are not like muscles and tendons in that way. If you use your ligaments to hold up your organs (or stabilize your knees or sacrum, for that matter) instead of using your muscles, the ligaments will stretch out like the elastic on an old pair of knee socks. You know what happens to the top of socks after you've stretched out the elastic? How they kind of sadly swamp around your calf? I call socks at this stage Quitters. Don't let your ligaments become Quitters! (Oh, and P.S. Your ligaments don't sag because they age, but rather because they have been subjected to your bad habits for longer!)

2. Get out of your heels ASAP.
This one is better explained with a picture taken from Podiatry Management, written by genius podiatrist William A. Rossi.

As a biomechanical scientist, I have been trying to educate everyone (including the most educated of the medical community) about the damage heeled footwear brings to the entire body. A positive heel instantly impact the biomechanics of ALL of the joints, which includes the sacroiliac joints and the hips. In fact, my pelvic floor thesis and corrective exercise program dealt primarily with the legs when treating PFD. You can't correct the smaller problem until you deal with what created it.

From the article: Perhaps the single most visible difference between the shoeless and the shod foot is the elevated heel under the shoe. The numerous influences of the shoe heel on the foot and body column are not fully understood by most medical practitioners. The practitioner commonly speaks of "sensible" heels. Such a heel does not exist. Any elevated heel under a shoe automatically initiates an altered series of foot and body biomechanics.

Can we please have three cheers for Dr. Rossi? Hip, hip…!

I happily recommend Earth Footwear (going barefoot is good too, but in the real world, most of us need shoes), and the Glide is my favorite style, especially for all the walking you are going to need to do…

3. Walk, but STAY OFF THE TREADMILL!

The treadmill is a no-no for anyone with a hip, pelvic floor, psoas, or knee issues. Sounds weird, right? You thought walking was walking? Nope. Ok, fast physics lesson.

On this planet, things move forward by:

A) Pushing backward
B) Using A Credit Card
C) Leaning forward, and then falling.

If you guessed "A and C", then you are correct. If you guessed "B", then you're probably a large bank. To truly move forward using your muscles, then you have to generate an opposing force. You understand this when swimming, or when dipping an oar into the water. Even your tires push back to move the car forward. It's how things are done. If you are falling forward, then not only are you NOT using your posterior, you are using your joint cartilage to cushion the fall. And there's not an unlimited supply. Walking correctly means you get to use your BUTT muscles. The gluteal muscles extend the hip (fancy words for lifting the leg out behind you), but on a treadmill, because the belt is moving toward you, you don't get to push back. Instead, your lift your leg out (hip flexion) and fall forward. Congratulations, you burned up a lot of calories but weakened your pelvic strength. Try taking your act on the road (as in, not on the treadmill) and practice the "ice skating" feel of a pushing-back gait pattern.

4. Stop sitting on your sacrum!

In addition to your pelvic floor muscles, your organs are also held in place by ligaments. One major ligament to the uterus is attached to the sacrum, so if the sacrum is pushed into your pelvic bowl, the uterus moves down. Even a diligent exercise program can't override the constant and displacing physical pressure. Check out this video to help you find a better way to sit (keeping in mind that you can stand up as well…): http://www.youtube.com/restorativeexercise#p/a/u/0/aRtKFUCAwd4

Make sure that you're not thrusting your ribs (anatomical experts say that your ribs are different than your pelvis…) but are rolling your pelvis forward. Sit on a rolled towel to help you find the correct pelvic tilt! Vaginismus: Vaginismus is vaginal tightness causing discomfort, burning, penetration problems or the inability to have intercourse.

Breast Health: This includes areas around the breast and under the armpit.

FOR MANY YEARS, women receiving breast surgery were told to "baby" their arm to prevent lymphedema (a swelling of the armpit, arms or hands). And while this advice seems appropriate when trying to prevent agitation of the surgery site, it has a drastic effect on the mechanics and health of the shoulder girdle. As we develop a better understanding of the role healthy muscles play in overall body health, research is starting to show that gentle use of the arm during the healing process can keep the tissues of the shoulder girdle mobile, help the scar tissue lie down in the correct direction and actually reduce swelling in the arms.

In addition to aiding in the healing process, working on skeletal alignment can actually create a healthier environment for the breast tissue before there is an issue. In fact, many asymptomatic women are slowly collecting lymph in the armpit area due to poor tone of the rotator cuff, pectoral and latissimus muscles. This excessive swelling in the armpit and around the bra area is often accumulated waste, even though it looks and feels like fatty tissue.

How does your lymph system work?
Circulating alongside your blood vessels, our lymph system drains the cellular waste products removed from the cells. But unlike the heart in the cardiovascular system, lymph has no big pumping mechanism of its own. Lymph movement depends on regular use of the muscles in the area. And even if you work the large muscles in the gym, the smaller muscles often get neglected. Whether you are interested in preventing waste accumulation or reducing swelling due to stagnant lymph, exercises to slowly stretch and strengthen the area are greatly encouraged!

The "egg-hole" test
This is a simple way to evaluate the tone of the muscles that define your armpit. Muscles that are easy for you to innervate (which means to "supply with nerves" by contracting) indicate the lymph has a better chance at being removed from the area.

Stand in front of a mirror with a clear view of your armpit. The less clothing you have on, the easier it is to see. Bring your elbow out to the side and lift it until it is the same height as your shoulder. Gently pulling your shoulder blade downward should create a hole about the size and shape of an egg.

No hole? If you have some lymph accumulation in the area, the wall of your armpit will be flat. If you have a lot of lymph lymph accumulation in the area, your armpit will bulge.

If you have a generous amount of swelling in the armpit, it may be a good time to schedule a breast examination and have your nodes checked — and start these exercises right away!

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What types of movement are safe? When you first have surgery, most movement is uncomfortable and there is a lot of fear of re-injuring or damaging the surgical site. Your surgeon should let you know when the suture has healed and you are no longer at risk of opening the site. During that time, however, you can still move the surrounding areas without impeding the healing process.

Keep your hands active to keep neurological activity moving through the arms. Do "piano player" exercises with your fingers, touching each finger to the thumb, going up and down the scales working on speed and fine motor skill. Add gentle hand and finger stretching often, to keep the tissues from atrophying while you are healing. Also, add the "head hang," (pictured above ) to stretch the back of your neck. Healing tissues tend to be stiff from disuse, so keep the neck supple by allowing the chin to drop until it touches the chest.

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Put the swing back into your step!
Of all the exercises you could do with your shoulders, walking with natural arm swing is the most important to breast health! Many people have adopted the race-walking posture of bending the elbows when going for their daily exercise, but long-armed swings pushing behind you (imagine pushing ski poles behind you) is the more natural and calorie-burning way to walk. Remember, race walking is a sport, so these athletes are trying to conserve energy and expend less calories — why would we want to do that?

Stretching your chest with floor angels

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Reclining on a bolster or stacked pillows, reach your arms out to the side, keeping the palms up. Try to get the backs of your hands to the floor, keeping your elbows slightly bent. Once your chest can handle that stretch, slowly raise your arms above your head, trying to keep them on the floor. Do this for five to 10 minutes per day, and be gentle with yourself!

You may not feel up to heavy bouts of exercise right after treatment or surgery, but as you begin to feel better, small movements can aid the body in healing and have an overall energy-increasing result.

These exercises from the Aligned and Well™ program can be used as both preventive health measures as well as part of a recovery program. They are designed to gently restore the circulation of electricity, blood and lymph mechanics, which all lead to better breast health!

Corns, Bunions and other Foot problems: All these and more can cause foot pain and odd growths on foot which disturb the normal walking patterns.

osteoporosis

1. Johann Friedrich Georg Christian Martin Lobstein
While you may not recognize the name, you surely know the name this French pathologist gave to bone he found with large, porous holes in it: osteoporosis (osteo=bone, poros=Greek word for passage.)
So the next time you spot the word, make sure you give a shout out to:
Jean-Freed-rik-Gay-org-Martin-Lobs.

2. You can actually spot-treat osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is not a systemic or whole-body disease, but an indication of where your bone is not loaded correctly. Osteoporosis doesn't mean that you have a bad-bone condition — your bone loss is not happening over your entire skeleton but in a few key places. The areas that most people experience bone loss is:

  • Ribs
  • Wrists
  • Vertebrae
  • Head of the femur (top of the thigh bone, commonly mis-referred* to as the hip bone.)

In order to get bone to generate, you have to know your sites. If you are given a diagnosis of osteoporosis or osteopenia (a little bone loss), ask WHERE the density is low.

And, P.S. the only test really valid to give you a diagnosis is a DEXA. In-office bone screenings are not valid enough to give you a diagnosis. The margin of error is too high. They are simply supposed to be a screening technique for referral to the better DEXA.

*P.P.S. There is no "hip bone." The hip is a joint made from the pelvis and the thigh bone, called, the femur.

3. Exercise trumps nutrition.
Many people think osteoporosis is a result of poor nutrition. However, poor nutrition doesn't explain the fact that most bone tissue, even in the bones with osteoporosis, is doing just fine. Just here and there is there a problem. The failure for bone to generate at its correct rate is really a mechanical one — which is why I am blogging about it, of course.

While proper nutrition is absolutely a requirement for healthy bone, the signal for bone to grow is mechanical in nature. The "GROW BONE" signal starts with a cell being *squished* within the bone. Without that *squish* of these mechanoreceptors (sensors sensitive to physical deformation) the nutrients that support bone growth can't do their job . Your body cannot use them without the signal. Taking supplements is 1/2 of the correct prescription for osteogenesis (bone growing). The other 1/2 is exercise, and let's have some words about exercise and bone development…

4. Weight bearing exercise doesn't not mean "using weights."
For optimal bone regeneration, you need as much *squish* in the bone-growth-signaling cells as possible. In order to get the greatest amount of *squish* you need to keep your bones holding the proper amount of weight — not too much and not too little. The research done on bone and exercise shows that moving around while weight bearing gives the greatest response to bone development in the right places.

Why do I say in the right places?

Because, any resistance exercise will help build bone. The act of a muscle working, pulling on the bone, is enough to stimulate bone growth. This is the rationale for doing weights or other types of non-functional resistance exercises in gyms, classes, etc.

So, what's the problem?

Bone loss at muscle attachment sites is not the problem in osteoporosis. Bone loss in the hips (and the eventual break) is the biggest problem in osteoporosis, with the second largest issue being bone loss (and then fracture) in the spine. "Weights" don't hit these areas in a way that reduces the risk of breaks or fractures — even though you may be adding bone tissue in other places.

Best bone-building weight bearing exercise = walking. Walking is better than running because bone building favors lower impact loading as opposed to high impact and frequent loading cycles.

Non weight bearing exercise = swimming, cycling, blogging. That's why I am only doing one more fact — my bones are not impressed with me right now.

5. The "hump" is not caused by osteoporosis. The "hump" is actually a cause of osteoporosis.

It was believed for a long time that the excessive curve in the upper back (called the dowager's hump*) was the result of weak, porous bones unable to hold up the weight of the spine. This weakness in the bones allowed the spine to collapse forward. It makes sense, in a way. It makes so much sense that no one actually researched it — it's just a belief that has been perpetuated and is now on the title page of almost every bone website under Bone Facts. Which is a bummer, because the actual research shows that this curve of the spine, called "hyperkyphosis" is a risk factor for osteoporosis and not the other way around. Which makes sense because osteoporosis is caused by a lack of loading. The farther something curves forward, the less weight it places on what sits below it.

Your alignment is actually a huge deal when it comes to bone growth. You can make your daily walk more weight-bearing by stacking your body. See those walkers with their torso out in front of them? Their walk is less weight-bearing than it could be. Have too much curve in your upper spine? Wear your head out in front of the rest of the body?

These are all things that decrease bone regeneration and fixing them is as simple as stretching your muscles to their correct length and using your body as it was designed.