Transcript: EP 278 – Why You Should Care About Your Pelvic Floor with Dr. Edythe Heus
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Dr. Taz: Welcome back, everyone. Welcome back to another episode of Superwoman Wellness where you know we’re determined to bring you back to your superpowered self. Today we’re talking about something a lot of you guys just don’t want to talk about. We’re going down there. Yes, we’re going to talk about your pelvic floor and it’s an area that often doesn’t get the attention it needs. And many of you don’t even know you’re having an issue there. I know this from practice, but joining me today is Dr. Edyth Hoist. I am thrilled to bring her in. She initially developed and perfected, over 30 years, Revolution in Motion, which has transformed bodies, cleared long-term injuries, upgraded neurology, and produced high powered performance. The secret to the system is Dr. Hoist’s refusal to accept conventional wisdom about the limits of exercise and her deep understanding of anatomy, physiology, neurology, and movement, along with the properties of fascia, allow rapid and seemingly unlikely results.
Dr. Taz: Dr. Hoist believes that core strength is a critical element in health and fitness. I’m working on that myself right here. However, she defines the core quite differently. Her focus is on the lower abs, the pelvic floor and the intrinsic muscles of the spine for strength, power, explosiveness, and improved performance. We got a lot to talk about. Welcome to show Dr. Edyth. I’m thrilled to bring you on here. All right. Pelvic floor wellness. I’m thinking I know it all, but break it down for us. What is it? What does it mean? And then we’re going to get into all this musculature that you’re talking about in just a moment.
Dr. Heus: Okay. So pelvic floor wellness requires that we have a very responsive and resilient pelvic floor. So it needs to be taut when it’s appropriate and it needs to be elastic when that’s appropriate. So really having a responsive pelvic floor is the key to health, to a healthy pelvic floor.
Dr. Taz: And how do you know if your pelvic floor is in trouble, or if you do have a responsive pelvic floor, are there signs and symptoms?
Dr. Heus: There are.
Dr. Taz: Like I’m okay or I’m getting in trouble?
Dr. Heus: So some of the common things that people equate with an unhealthy pelvic floor is pain in the pelvic floor area, but you can also have pain in your back. You can have hip restrictions, but it also shows up with sneezing, wetting your pants when you sneeze, or not being able to run without some leakage or jumping on a trampoline. Then there are also problems with having an orgasm, pain with intercourse, problems just sitting a lot, having excess tension that actually goes up the entire spine. And it can result in things like shortness of breath, increased heart rate, poor respiratory rate and poor gut function, as well as the usual things of dismonaria, pain with your menstrual cycle, or even abnormal menstrual cycles and something that’s more involved is actually your hormones not working well.
Dr. Taz: Wow. So I always think of the hormones triggering the pelvic floor issue, but you’re actually thinking of it the other way around. The pelvic floor triggers the hormone imbalance. Correct?
Dr. Heus: Correct.
Dr. Taz: Can you explain that to us? How does that feed back?
Dr. Heus: One of the ways that happens is that we have poor circulation, so the hormones don’t get to the tissues that they need to get to. It can also affect hormone receptors, which are dependent upon the health of your fascia. So the fascia has more nerve endings and nerve cells than any tissue in the body. That awareness in the fascia is important to all of our physiology. Every organ is surrounded by fascia, every muscle is surrounded by fascia, and every cell is affected by fascia. It’s really this communication network.
Dr. Taz: Okay. I want you to paint a visual for somebody out there who’s like fascia, fascist. What are you talking about? What is fascia? And you’re saying there are nerve endings on the fascia and there’s a communication network on the fascia. Break that down a little bit more for us.
Dr. Heus: Okay. So fascia is connective tissue and it surrounds every muscle fiber, every muscle. It’s the connector in every organ, every blood vessel and nerve. It’s the connection between the nerve that goes to the muscle and how the muscle functions without healthy fascia, you have very limited or poor communication between the nervous system and the musculoskeletal system. And that same thing applies to the organ system.
Dr. Taz: Gotcha. Okay. So we’ve got this pelvic floor, it’s got fascia, it has organs, it has muscles. How does it get into trouble? What are some of the behaviors, or maybe even conditions that constrict a pelvic floor or get the pelvic floor in trouble to begin with.
Dr. Heus: Okay. It’s quite broad because we can have mechanical problems and that can be sitting too much. I see it with people that cycle repetitively, you’ve got that mechanical pressure on the pelvic floor. Some people are just hypermobile. That means they’re very flexible, so they can get into trouble with the pelvic floor not having the appropriate tone. And a coughing fit. If you’ve got days of coughing, you’re straining your pelvic floor. There are so many things that the pelvic floor is connected to, including the diaphragm. So if you hold your breath, you don’t breathe, or your rib cage doesn’t expand, then you’re going to have limitations or restrictions in your pelvic floor. I’m trying to make it simple, but there’s so much interconnectedness that you could have a hip problem that’s affecting your pelvic floor. You could have had childbirth or a difficult birth. There are many other reasons that the pelvic floor can be in trouble. And inflammation, diet. The other thing is your gut, because I know you love to talk about the gut.
Dr. Taz: What’s the connection between the gut and the pelvic floor?
Dr. Heus: I think that one of the most powerful things is the vagus nerve. And I know that people are starting to hear about the vagus nerve. So it is the largest nerve in the body that carries parasympathetic information. And that has to do with rest, repair, rebuilding, our ability to remain calm, and it promotes gut motility. So the vagus nerve carries information from the brain and the body back and forth. And the vagus nerve goes through the diaphragm, an opening in the diaphragm. And the movement of the diaphragm helps determine the tone of the vagus nerve, because it massages it. And so then the vagus nerve is going to all of your organs of your gut, your heart, your respiratory system, your blood vessels. And so that massage is dependent upon healthy diaphragm function. And the healthy diaphragmatic function is dependent on the healthy pelvic floor, so that’s one of the ways. Also, because the fascia around the organ system is continuous with the fascia of the pelvic floor. So the healthier our pelvic floor, our whole organ system works better.
Dr. Taz: So essentially you’re saying everything’s connected, how we breathe, and our diaphragm is connected to the pelvic floor, how we move is connected to the pelvic floor. If we sit and don’t sit, that’s connected as well. We know what gets us in trouble with the pelvic floor. Now, once we are having difficulty and you mentioned some of the signs and symptoms early on, what are the options? I refer patients all the time for physical therapy or pelvic floor physical therapy to help open that area up. Personally, I love yoga and Pilates because I feel like that really helps. You mentioned the core and how that’s such a big, important part of this. Break down for us what we need to be doing to repair a pelvic floor. And even if we’re not in trouble, what’s a good way to keep that pelvic floor healthy?
Dr. Heus: When I started developing my exercise system, I was working with professional baseball players. One of the outcomes of my exercise system, which was initially developed for elite athletes to help with performance, the baseball players were saying, our wives are wondering why when we come back from a workout with you, why we want to jump our wives? That’s what they said. So I realized that my training was having a significant impact on the pelvic floor. So then I started to develop exercises, focusing on the pelvic floor and creating sequences of exercise that would enhance pelvic floor function.
Dr. Heus: What I found is a healthy pelvic floor has to have a lengthening and a rebound effect. Ut has to have the right elasticity and some things create too much elasticity or they lengthen it and you lose the rebound, and other things will create too much contraction. And either of those will create problems or not give you the optimal pelvic floor function that you could be getting. So I set out to develop exercises that would create a healthy pelvic floor. So it requires elongation and rebound in your exercises. Pilates is wonderful. Yoga can be wonderful. You just want to make sure you don’t hold postures too long because then you’re going to lengthen the collagen fibers and the elastic fibers so that they’re not as responsive.
Dr. Taz: Okay. So is there a length of time you recommend when holding?
Dr. Heus: Under 15 seconds.
Dr. Taz: Wow, because I always think we should be holding to increase resistance and maybe burn a little bit of fat, but you’re saying no.
Dr. Heus: I’m saying no.
Dr. Taz: Got it. You talked about upgraded neurology and you talked about muscles that often don’t get involved in a patient with pelvic floor issues. Can you expand on that?
Dr. Heus: All right. The way that we optimize neurology is the exercises that I do are on an unstable surface and a physio ball, so that you’re getting the elasticity, the tone of the ball to match up with the tone of your pelvic floor. So doing exercises on a physioball with the optimal amount of pressure and also the right kind of, oh gosh, I don’t know what makes up the elasticity and the ball. You want that to match up so that the sensory input from your pelvic floor is enhanced just by the experience of sitting on the ball. So between the instability, which is encouraging the brain to work better and all the specialized cells that tell us where we are in space, you also want the elasticity to have some guidance.
Dr. Taz: Gotcha. So the ball, is it a good idea for us to be, if we have sitting jobs to be sitting on a ball?
Dr. Heus: It would be great. It would be optimal.
Dr. Taz: Do you recommend doing that for the majority of the day?
Dr. Heus: I think that it would be fatiguing if you did that exclusively. So, no. Obviously standing desks are great. So change up your position when you’re working at your desk.
Dr. Taz: And what do you think about a wobble chair? I have a wobble chair that I use as my chair. Do you know what one of those is?
Dr. Heus: Yes, I think they’re great. And you can get these wobble cushions that are inflatable and they’re small and you can put them on top of an office chair and get benefits from that.
Dr. Taz: Cool. Wobble cushions. Hadn’t heard of that before. Any other sort of hints or tricks to improving… you mentioned the core. Can you help us with how we build the core the best? What’s the best way to build the core and how does that influence our pelvic floor?
Dr. Heus: Sure. So it’s been exciting to watch what’s happened with understanding the core and communicating to the public really what the core is. In the past it was the back muscles, the hip flexors, the abdominal muscles. And more recently, they’ve included the pelvic floor, which is great, and the diaphragm as part of the core. But I like to refine it more. So all of our abdominal muscles are controlled by small muscles called the pyramidalis, or also this lower fascial area. So from the pubic bone to about two inches above the pubic bone serves as a tensor. And all of our abdominal muscles attach to the fascia on the front. So we can control all of our abdominal muscles just with the lowest abdominal muscles and the fascia that’s there. And that’s continuous with our pelvic floor, which goes to our tailbone and up, and is directed to the small muscles of our spine.
Dr. Heus: All of these areas, these small muscles, have more neurology. So there are fewer muscle fibers served by a nerve. So you can imagine how much more intelligent that is, the better relationship between those muscles and the brain. And then you add in the fascia which has even more neurology, you’re getting a smart core. Now I see that core as being the megaphones, telling the larger muscles what to do. Fortunately, we’ve got a backup of a secondary core because that will fatigue, but recovers quickly, so that’s the core I train. And the best way to get that is by having instability and also lots of data, the brain thrives on novelty. So texture, movement, very specific kinds of movements, all of that goes into optimizing the core. I think that’s all critical to training and being healthy and then you can do whatever you want.
Dr. Taz: Interesting. You mentioned the spin bike. Are there other activities that are biking or cycling in general? Are there other activities that can track the pelvic floor?
Dr. Heus: Yes, heavy lifting. So unfortunately a lot of what’s done in CrossFit kinds of workouts or bootcamp things can be very stressful on the pelvic floor. But the exciting thing is that if you do Revolution in Motion, my exercise system, you can do everything that you love to do better and you have access to the core that really allows you to optimize your performance.
Dr. Taz: Gotcha. Any other last sort of helpful hints or tips for people out there who are wanting to improve their pelvic floor health or experiencing a lot of the symptoms of pelvic floor instability? What would you say to them?
Dr. Heus: I think that first understanding a little bit more of the benefits of having a healthy pelvic floor will be inspiration to do pelvic floor focused workouts. It optimizes your core. It really is responsible for helping you have optimal energy because if you bring in Eastern medicine, your base chakra, your energy comes in through your pelvic floor. It also helps you be more decisive because it helps you with posture, gait, balance, coordination. So when you’re feeling very stable in your core, then you’re more decisive. You are emotionally on point, you have impulse control, better executive functioning, your focus is better, and you have more resiliency. And so my recommendation is that you have to make sure that your exercise that you’re doing is facilitating the lengthening and the rebound, getting really healthy elasticity and tone.
Dr. Taz: Gotcha. I love it. Now if anyone watching or listening today wants to learn more about Revolution in Motion or pelvic floor health, what’s the best way for them to find out more?
Dr. Heus: Go to my website, revinmo.com. That’s R-E-V-I-N-M-O.com. And just know that when you’ve got a healthy pelvic floor, everything is better. Your life is better.
Dr. Taz: I love that. This is something I can witness firsthand in practice. I’ve worked with so many of you that have pelvic floor difficulties. Like Dr. Edyth mentioned earlier, it can have so many signs and symptoms that we’re simply, maybe at first, not aware of. Everything from frequent urination to urinating with a cough or a sneeze or things like that to issues with intercourse, issues with orgasm, and then sometimes just chronic pain.
Dr. Heus: Chronic pain, and it can be anywhere because of the interrelatedness. We oftentimes can have vulnerable angles or feet because of an unhealthy pelvic floor, and shoulder problems. We have to think beyond just the local area.
Dr. Taz: Absolutely. I’m going to start quizzing you guys by the way, for everybody watching and listening, we’re going to start having a quiz at the end of the show and send out a prize to whoever can tell me what fascia means. I think that’s the word of the day, so whoever can tell what fascia means, DM me, email me, and I will send you a free bottle of Boost. Let’s try it that way. So thank you, Dr. Edyth, for taking time out today to join us and talk about pelvic floor health. For everybody else watching or listening, thank you as well. Remember, you can rate and review the show. We’re on Apple, iTunes and Spotify. Share it with your friends. Let’s get super powered and I’ll see you guys next time.