I used to pee my pants (just a little) when I “walked like a lady” (legs close together). No, I’ve never given birth, so I can’t blame it on that. Many women experience incontinence who have never given birth. Incontinence is not a natural result of having a normal vaginal delivery (that would be a pretty crappy design of the human body). Incontinence may be a sign that you have a weak pelvic floor because you’re not using your body the way nature intended. Excessive sitting, positive heeled shoes, cultural messages (walk, sit stand like a lady) have all shaped our bodies. We are how we move…or don’t move.
The following information is really about me playing pee detective.
When I started walking with my feet the correct distance apart I no longer had a problem with incontinence (or the feeling of urgency). Walking with my feet pelvis width apart also encouraged my femurs out of internal rotation. Notice how my knee is a smidge on the inside of the plumb line, not because I need to widen my stance, but because my femur is internally rotated.
Walking with my femurs in neutral helped to support my pelvic floor (the pelvic floor does NOT work in isolation). The result I experienced wasn’t just that I was able to “hold it in” better, but the actual urge to pee went away. It felt as if something lifted off my bladder. Perhaps the change in femur position also lifted my uterus off my bladder? BTW, I’m not positive femur position can affect uterine position, I’m just playing detective with my own body. This is how I came to the conclusion:
The cardinal ligament is known as main supporting ligaments of the uterus, upper vagina, and cervix. It attaches in a circular pattern around the cervix and moves laterally to the obturator fascia along the pelvic side walls. Inferiorly it is continuous with the fascia on the upper surface of the levator muscles. The obturator internus attaches to the medial aspect of the greater trochanter (see image below), so the this got me thinking that a neutral femur might help support the cardinal ligament. It also makes me wonder if “incompetent cervix” has to do with a disruption of flow through the ligament to the cervix due to poor alignment or tight pelvic floor. I haven’t come across any studies suggesting my femur/uterus hypothesis, I’m just going by how it feels to me. If you know of any studies related to uterine position and femur position, let me know. In the meantime, all I can say is pelvic and femur alignment is working for me!
Please don’t force “alignment”. Walking should be reflex driven. I can’t emphasize how difficult it is to know where you are at when just starting out on the alignment path and how easy it is to force “alignment” to the detriment of your tissues. That’s why working with trained in whole body alignment is so important. I recommend working with a Nutritious Movement™ certified restorative exercise specialist.
It’s important to build up your lateral hip strength while standing first and avoid pushing your body into doing something it’s not used to doing during gait. This is some of what I did to strengthen my lateral hip musculature. I’m including it here as a note to myself and as homework for the clients who I already work with. pelvic lists and monster walks and I worked on getting my femurs out of internal rotation. And of course, foot position and shoe choice is a great place to start. My favorite Alignment Snacks for building lateral hip strength are Adductor Madness, A Balanced Approach to Hip Strength, Balance… with Lateral Hips, and Walk This Way, Stand This Way.