Archive for April, 2014

A review of Dr. Roth’s “The End of Back Pain”

April 26, 2014

Andrew Siegel, M.D.   Blog #151

This blog is a review of a recently published book by Dr. Patrick Roth entitled The End Of Back Pain. This book piqued my interest because preventive health and exercise as a means of health maintenance and management of disease are topics that are dear to my heart. I recently authored a book on male pelvic floor muscle training as a means of preventing and managing sexual and urinary issues (Male Pelvic Fitness: Optimizing Sexual and Urinary Health) and I saw great parallels between Dr. Roth’s book and my own.

The author—a neurosurgeon—argues for a revolution in the conceptualizing of back pain and explains that the majority of pain is not related to “something broken.” His conviction is that back pain represents a common, fluctuating condition of normal life. Therefore, the appropriate treatment of back pain is to facilitate the body’s natural healing and shielding ability and mitigate it by strengthening the muscles of the body’s “hidden core”. Dr. Roth has designed a regimen entitled “the hidden core workout” that is dedicated to this. How refreshing it is to be exposed to a conservative means of management from a physician whose specialty is dedicated to invasive surgical procedures! Additionally, he proposes the paradigm-shattering view that back pain is not always a warning to abandon one’s program of exercise.

The text is sprinkled with “philosophical maxims” that are applied to the back–these are not only interesting and entertaining, but many of them were principles I had never been exposed to; “hidden truths”—pearls of knowledge; “Roth’s Rx”—the author’s basic recommendations; “core concepts”; and “the gist”—bullet points at the end of each chapter that summarize the salient points.

The content is organized and extraordinarily well written in very readable prose in terms that a layperson will readily understand. It has a nice flow and rhythm and the writing is imbued with an amusing sense of humor. Facts are nicely annotated and the book is well indexed. The author makes use of clever analogies and metaphors to make comprehending difficult subjects very simple.

I do not suffer from back pain—in fact, my back is one of the few areas of my body where I have never sustained a musculo-skeletal injury. Even though back pain is not my personal issue, I found Dr. Roth’s hidden core strengthening regimen extremely useful, and in fact, I am familiar with many of the exercises from my yoga, Pilates, and P90X experiences. I came to the realization that the reason I do not have back pain is that for years I have been doing many exercises that focus on my hidden core muscles! I have been studying Pilates for 4 years—it has greatly improved my posture, core strength and has helped balance the discrepancy between my anterior and posterior core. The chapter on back anatomy gave me a clear understanding of multifidus muscle anatomy and function, which gave me a new perspective and insight in comprehending the efforts of Catherine Byron, my Pilates instructor (cbperformancepilates.com), to have me try to articulate my vertebrae in incremental, singular movements as opposed to chunky and massive movements.

The chapter on spinal stenosis, sciatica, spondylolisthesis, sacroiliac joint pain, and spinal instability shed light on subjects that I only had vague notions of. As a urologist, on a daily basis I am confronted with patients with these diagnoses and the information conveyed helped me achieve a new level of appreciation of these issues. I came away with a newfound grasp of the anatomy and function of disc and facet joints. The discussion of surgery—microdiscectomy; fusion; and decompression was very elucidating.

The final chapter has a sentence that nicely summarizes the prevailing message of the book: “Incorporating philosophical considerations like Nietzsche’s: ‘convictions are more dangerous foes of truth than are lies,’ The End of Back Pain offers a perspective that is practical, empowering and actionable in its approach to conceptualizing pain and mitigating it.”

The book ends with an optimistic view towards the future, a time when the “back genome” will come into fruition. Dr. Roth’s notion is for the development of an Internet database by and for back pain sufferers with online access to appropriate educational materials and direction to the most appropriate health care provider, effectively putting the patient in the “driver’s seat.”

The End of Back Pain is virtually flawlessly edited–I found one typographical error and one awkward sentence in the entire 225 pages of writing (both on page 168). The only other minor detraction was an incongruity between some of the exercise images and the corresponding text entries (oblique V up and bent over kettlebell row). The description of these exercises is lateralized to one side of the body while the images depict the exercise being done on the other side of the body, making it somewhat confusing to follow until you figure it out.

This book is a terrific read—educational, entertaining and empowering. I highly recommend it to anyone suffering with back pain—and to take it one step further—to anyone who has been most fortunate to have not yet had to deal with back issues and would like to maintain that healthy status.

For info on Dr. Roth: www.patrickrothmd.com

A new blog is posted every week. To receive the blogs in the in box of your email go to the following link and click on “email subscription”:

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Author of: Male Pelvic Fitness: Optimizing Sexual and Urinary Health; oon to be available as a paperback; now available at Amazon in Kindle edition:

http://www.amazon.com/Male-Pelvic-Fitness-Optimizing-Urinary-ebook/dp/B00JIJDGXC/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1398464105&sr=1-3&keywords=male+pelvic+fitness

For more info on Dr. Siegel: http://about.me/asiegel913

For more info on Male Pelvic Fitness: http://www.MalePelvicFitness.com

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Health Issues Associated With Flying

April 19, 2014

Blog # 150

Andrew Siegel, M.D

It is Easter and Passover week and a very busy time for travel, so I thought this subject would be appropriate. It is fitting that as I am writing this, I am on a Delta jet en route to Sarasota.

Have you visited the mountainous regions of the Western USA, perhaps to go skiing? Let’s take as an example Park City, Utah, which has an elevation of about 7000 feet above sea level. For many who reside at sea level, visiting Park City can cause a number of symptoms on the basis of the decreased atmospheric (barometric) pressure and the diminished availability of oxygen. Until the body adjusts and adapts, many will experience a headache and perhaps some shortness of breath during routine activities such as walking up a flight of stairs, or perhaps have insomnia and shortness of breath in the wee hours of the morning.

What does this have to do with health issues related to flying? Simply that the cabin of a commercial aircraft is pressurized at 6000-8000 feet, very similar to the atmospheric pressure in Park City, and consequently there can be numerous health ramifications. Every year, billions of people travel by means of airlines. Because of a growing population, an ever-increasing aging population and an increase in air travel, there are more older and sicker people flying than ever before. For many, flying can be an unpleasant experience because of pre-flight stresses including airport turmoil, long TSA lines, the need to walk long distances, flight delays and the unpleasant processes of boarding and competing for carry-on luggage space; Inflight stresses including anxiety and fear of flying, loud noises, crying infants and children, your seat mate, vibration, turbulence, cramped seating (particularly non-aisle seating which reduces the opportunity to stretch and walk about the cabin), low humidity and decreased barometric and oxygen pressure; and post-flight stresses including the glacially slow process of deplaning, long walks, playing luggage roulette on the carousels, arranging transportation and jet lag.

Healthy people can usually easily handle the stresses associated with flying, but people with heart, lung and other health issues can become medically compromised when these stresses are imposed on the body. The good news is that planes are equipped with medical kits and defibrillators (AEDs) and flight attendants are trained in administering basic cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and in using the AED to treat passengers who have a cardiac arrest. In the event of a medical emergency, ground medical support teams can be contacted by the flight crew and medical consultation obtained. Rarely, a seriously ill passenger may necessitate flight diversion to an alternate airport for an emergency, unscheduled landing.

The key difference between the aircraft being on the ground as opposed to in flight is the atmospheric pressure. To reiterate, aircraft are not pressurized at sea level, but at 6000-8000 feet, and consequently the oxygen concentration in the air is diminished and there is a corresponding decrease in the oxygen carried in the blood (causing a state of hypoxemia). The decreased oxygen pressure decreases the saturation of hemoglobin (the protein that is responsible for transporting oxygen to our cells) to 90% vs. 97% at sea level. The healthy body can adapt and compensate by increasing the heart rate and respiratory rate, but those with cardiovascular and pulmonary compromise (angina, heart failure, recent heart attack, asthma, emphysema, etc.) may be unable to do so because of the decreased oxygen pressure and the very dry air conditions.

As a result of the decreased atmospheric pressure, not only is there is less oxygen available, but gases present in the cavities of our bodies expand in accordance with the laws of physics. Gases in our abdomen, middle ear and sinuses expand under the circumstance of low atmospheric pressure and may cause abdominal bloating, a crackling sensation within the ear and full sinuses, respectively.

Before takeoff, cabin pressure equals middle ear pressure, but during ascent to cruising altitude, middle ear pressure remains at ground pressure whereas the ambient pressure is now much less, so to equilibrate the pressures, air must be able to flow freely from the middle ear and from the sinuses to the outside. On descent, the opposite must be able to occur in order to equalize pressures. If pressure equalization cannot occur because of blockage of passageways due to a cold or allergy, consequences may occur including pain, bleeding and eardrum rupture. Problems of this nature are more severe during descent than ascent. It is helpful to do the following to help this situation: hold your nose shut with your fingers while exhaling forcefully against a closed mouth; swallow repeatedly; and chew gum.

Because of gas expansion, it is prudent to avoid gas-producing foods immediately before a flight. Since the lower air pressure of a plane allows intestinal gas to expand, the gases that normally exist in the gastro-intestinal tract will have more presence in flight. It is for this reason that flying too soon after gastro-intestinal surgery should be avoided as it can cause pain and bleeding.

Low cabin humidity (5-15%) is a certainty because air is obtained from the outside, where at high altitudes it is completely lacking in humidity. Consequently, the skin can get very dry as can any mucosal surface (moist area of the body) including the eyes, nasal passages, mouth, etc. Hydrating skin lotion, lip balm, artificial tears (especially for those who use contact lenses) and saline nasal spray and staying well hydrated by drinking plenty of water can be helpful means of combatting dryness.

Aircraft cabins are confined spaces in which a dense population is housed for hours in close proximity and thus the potential for transmission of infectious disease from passenger to passenger via breathing, coughing, sneezing, etc. Cabin air is a mixture of recirculated air and fresh air from outside; recirculated air is filtered to remove micro-organisms. Commercial airplanes use radial flow in which inflow (ceiling) and outflow (floor) ducts are separated, avoiding the mixing of cabin air. Any person with a contagious disease should postpone air travel to prevent the potential for transmission to others. Ozone, a respiratory irritant present at high altitudes, can find its way into the ventilation system when it enters with outside air. Most aircraft have ozone converters, which break down the ozone before it reaches the cabin

Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a condition in which blood clots can develop within the veins of the legs under the circumstance of prolonged immobility, as can easily happen on a plane because of cramped seating and poor access to the aisle, often blocked with carts and other passengers. VTE usually causes pain and swelling in the involved leg and can become a very serious medical matter if pieces of the clot break off and propagate to the lungs, a condition known as a pulmonary embolism (PE), which can cause chest pain, shortness of breath, and can be potentially lethal as up to one quarter of PE are fatal. Certain situations create higher risk for VTE, including pregnancy, cancer, prior VTE history, and blood diseases that predispose towards clotting. In order to minimize risk for VTE, the following are recommended: don’t block your leg room with luggage underneath the seat in front of you; exercise the legs by moving them regularly while seated; walk about the cabin when you can; stay well hydrated; use compression stockings to support the circulation; sit in an aisle seat if possible.

Motion sickness is a medical consideration associated with in-flight turbulence. The following measures are recommended to minimize the risk of motion sickness: try to sit over the wing; fly larger airplanes; try to obtain a window seat and focus on the horizon; direct cool air on your face; avoid excess liquids and gas-producing foods; avoid alcohol. Although air travel can be anxiety provoking for some and alcohol can help take the edge off, it can also cause dehydration, sleep interference and on occasion “air rage,” so it is prudent to be moderate with in-flight alcohol consumption.

Decompression sickness (“the bends”) is a situation that commonly causes joint and/or muscle pain and potentially cardiovascular collapse; it typically occurs when going from a high-pressure environment to a low-pressure environment, which causes nitrogen bubbles to form in the blood and body fluids. Most people think of this happening when surfacing from scuba diving, but it can also happen on occasion during airplane ascent. Particularly dangerous is flying very soon after scuba diving.

Bon Voyage!

Reference: Medical Guidelines For Airline Passengers

Aerospace Medical; Association, Alexandria, Virginia

 

 

A new blog is posted every week. To receive the blogs in the in box of your email go to the following link and click on “email subscription”:

www.healthdoc13.wordpress.com

Author of: Male Pelvic Fitness: Optimizing Sexual and Urinary Health; paperback in press and now available in e-book format on Amazon

www.MalePelvicFitness.com

Author of Promiscuous Eating: Understanding and Ending Our Self-Destructive Relationship with Food: www.promiscuouseating.com

Available on Amazon in Kindle edition

Author of Finding Your Own Fountain of Youth: The Essential Guide For Maximizing Health, Wellness, Fitness & Longevity (free electronic download) www.findyourfountainofyouth.com

Facebook Page: Our Greatest Wealth Is Health

Please visit page and “like”: www.facebook.com/promisceating

Facebook Page: Men’s Pelvic Health

Please visit page and “like”: www.facebook.com/malepelvicfitness

For more info on Dr. Siegel: http://about.me/asiegel913

Pilates and Male Pelvic Fitness: Part 2

April 12, 2014

 

Blog #149

Pilates is a discipline that has a strong foundation in core strength and pelvic floor conditioning. This blog is the second part of an interview of Catherine Byron, Pilates trainer and owner of CB Performance Pilates (www.CBPerformancePilates.com). This material is excerpted from my forthcoming book: Male Pelvic Fitness: Optimizing Sexual and Urinary Health. (now available in ebook format on Amazon; soon to be available on iBooks, Nook, and paperback)

Dr. Siegel: Can you elaborate on the mind-body connection?

Catherine Byron: Integrating “awareness” and the “mind-body” connection are key components to reaching your potential. The art of being in the moment, of involving the intellect with movement is the key to reaching one’s goals. Often, we are not living in the moment but are simply going through the motions, a condition known as “mindlessness.” Pilates is rooted in “mindfulness”—staying alert and aware in the present moment. Not only does Pilates educate a person about his anatomy, but also how to use it more efficiently.

Dr. Siegel: But doesn’t too much thinking interfere with our ability to do a physical task in a natural and fluid fashion?

Catherine Byron: During the rehabilitative/reconditioning phase of training, mindfulness is key. Over time, these patterns become natural and intuitive and the need to “think” about it will diminish. Initial “heightened” focus is part of the overall process 

Dr. Siegel: In your opinion, what constitutes fitness in general and pelvic fitness in specific?

Catherine Byron: Being physically fit has its roots in the foundations of stability, flexibility, strength and aerobic conditioning. Pilates adds spinal alignment, muscle balance and core strength. Throughout your book, you have emphasized the importance of blood flow to the pelvis, linking it to cardiovascular and penile health and function. Cardiovascular fitness is a foundational pillar of good health and should be a lifestyle habit that is incorporated into one’s existence. In terms of pelvic fitness, a simple formula is improve blood flow, improve function.

Dr. Siegel: What differences have you observed in working with men vs. women?

Catherine Byron: One of the main differences between men and women is range of motion. Most males do not have the degree of joint flexibility as do females, particularly around the hip region. Movement is directly related to this range of motion or flexibility. The more flexible a person is, the more they can “articulate,” meaning move the body with greater detail. For example, think of a ballerina in terms of how she moves. She has the ability to move her ribs and hips with petite, incremental articulations and singular, ratcheted movements as opposed to the chunky, massive movements of many men. The good news is that through stretching and Pilates, men can greatly improve their range of motion and muscle function and begin to perform pelvic movements with greater articulation. The resulting improved range of motion ultimately translates into awareness and improved control of your core, pelvic floor and all-importantorgan, the penis.

Dr. Siegel: How will your 10-step Pilates program improve male pelvic health?

Catherine Byron: The Pilates exercises will develop the deep stabilizers of the spine and improve pelvic movement. These muscle groups work to “hold” or “stabilize” the hips and spine in place. They greatly contribute to the strength and endurance requirements of pelvic movements. There are two types of muscles—movers and stabilizers. For example, your biceps muscle allows you to move your arm but does not work to stabilize any part of your body. Stabilizer muscles are located throughout the body and, in essence, hold you together so that you don’t collapse. In terms of pelvic fitness, Pilates focuses on the pelvic stabilizers. The pelvic floor muscles lift, support and stabilize our pelvic organs. Without the pelvic stabilizer muscles, we would all be wearing diapers. Unfortunately, over time, these lose elasticity and tend to collapse to some extent, which is why strengthening them is so vital.

Dr. Siegel: How does pelvic stabilization help sexual function?

Catherine Byron: Pelvic stabilization builds endurance of the pelvic floor muscles and surrounding core region. This directly equates to improved function, stamina and the length of time that the pelvic muscles can contract before they fatigue. An improved pelvic floor coupled with active pelvic floor muscle contractions will enhance sexual function by allowing a man greater control over his erections.

Dr. Siegel: What about breathing?

Catherine Byron: Breathing is literally the “lifeline” of the entire body. Inhalation brings a surge of oxygen to every cell of the body, fueling and providing energy. Exhalation is a necessary release not only of waste gases but also of physical tension. Holding one’s breath or a lack of coordinated and full breathing diminishes this fuel connection and can result in tense and rigid movements. Breathing is part of that mind-body connection and can help to maximize the integration of body, mind and spirit.

Dr. Siegel: What is the relationship between stability and flexibility?

Catherine Byron: Stability and flexibility can be likened to a tree’s roots and branches. The roots represent stability and the branches, flexibility. If either function is in greater measure than the other, an imbalance occurs. Pilates creates a body that is stable and flexible in equal measure. Over-development or under-development of one or both of these can lead to injury and dysfunction. Pilates exercises produce both length (flexibility) and strength in the muscles, creating a harmonious balance.

Dr. Siegel: What is a Pilates ring?

Catherine Byron: The Pilates ring, also called a Pilates “circle,” is a device used to activate the inner and outer muscles of the pelvis and pelvic floor. The ring is excellent at directly targeting and allowing one to develop the core muscles addressed in this book. For this reason, the 10-step program will require one. The ring is positioned inside or outside the hips, activating hard-to-reach stabilizers required for spinal, urinary and sexual health. Using this device will ignite the “hidden” muscle groups, rarely targeted in traditional gym style exercises.

In addition to strengthening the pelvic stabilizers, the 10-step program involves movement patterns so that muscle development will occur not only statically, but also dynamically during motion. While using the ring, movement in several planes of motion will function to develop the pelvic region in a balanced fashion. Creating balance in this region results in greater performance. Strengthening the front, back and sides of the hips is of vital importance because all are connected. Mastering movement withstabilization is our primary goal in order to enhance core strength and pelvic floor function to the maximum!

Dr. Siegel: What does Pilates offer men if they already know how to exercise their pelvic floor muscles including the bulbocavernosus, ischiocavernosus, and pubococcygeus muscles?

Catherine Byron: The 10-step Pilates exercises will maximize the strength and endurance of the pelvic floor muscles. This program will target and ignite the pelvic floor and will allow one to work the pelvic floor more deeply, effectively and efficiently.

Dr. Siegel: How is the 10-step exercise program geared towards men?

Catherine Byron: To reiterate, one of the main differences between men and women is the way in which they move. Women move with greater and more focused detail. It is easier for a woman to move her pelvis and tilt it one vertebra at a time as compared to a man whose pelvis is typically “thicker” and moves more in “chunks.” In addition, men tend to choose sports, exercises and hobbies that further exacerbate this bulky, heavy movement style. The result is a serious restriction of motion that can lead to diminished performance and potential injury.  For the 10-step program, along with step-by-step photos of the technique, please refer to Dr. Siegel’s book.

 

A new blog is posted every week. To receive the blogs in the in box of your email go to the following link and click on “email subscription”:

www.healthdoc13.wordpress.com

Author of: Male Pelvic Fitness: Optimizing Sexual and Urinary Health; in press and now available in e-book on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Male-Pelvic-Fitness-Optimizing-Urinary-ebook/dp/B00JIJDGXC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1397295413&sr=8-1&keywords=andrew+siegel+male+pelvic+fitnesswww.MalePelvicFitness.com

Author of Promiscuous Eating: Understanding and Ending Our Self-Destructive Relationship with Food: www.promiscuouseating.com

Author of Finding Your Own Fountain of Youth: The Essential Guide For Maximizing Health, Wellness, Fitness & Longevity (free electronic download) www.findyourfountainofyouth.com

Facebook Page: Our Greatest Wealth Is Health

Please visit page and “like”: www.facebook.com/promisceating

Facebook Page: Men’s Pelvic Health

Please visit page and “like”: www.facebook.com/malepelvicfitness

For more info on Dr. Siegel: http://about.me/asiegel913

Pilates and Male Pelvic Fitness

April 5, 2014

 

Blog #148

Pilates is a discipline that has a strong foundation in core strength and pelvic floor conditioning. This blog is an interview of Catherine Byron, Pilates trainer and owner of CB Performance Pilates (www.CBPerformancePilates.com). This material is excerpted from my forthcoming book: Male Pelvic Fitness: Optimizing Sexual and Urinary Health.

Dr. Siegel: What is Pilates?

Catherine Byron: Pilates is a system of exercises designed to strengthen the core. Pilates pays particular attention to spinal alignment and muscle balance. There are many ways to strengthen the core, but what makes Pilates exercises unique are the movement patterns through the spine, specifically articulating one vertebra at a time. As a result, the exercises are not only done with fine control and detail but also serve to strengthen the body evenly: they work both the front and back sides of the spine and, most importantly, include the pelvic floor. A regular gym approach to the core often targets the superficial (outer) muscles of the core while Pilates will target the spinal stabilizers (deepest layer), which attach to the vertebrae of the spine. In Pilates, a great deal of emphasis is placed on a person’s alignment, posture, and movement patterns.

Dr. Siegel: In your opinion, what constitutes the core?

Catherine Byron: The core is the trunk of the body—cut off the arms, legs, and head and what you have left is the core. The “foundation” or “primary core” is the area around the hips—the lumbar pelvic region.

Dr. Siegel: What does Pilates have to do with the male pelvic floor?

Catherine Byron: Pilates activates the pelvic floor muscles and the surrounding muscles that provide additional support for male pelvic function. In order to maximally benefit this area, the muscles have to be treated as a “team.” Similar to developing a sports team, you would never concentrate on only one player. Instead, you would focus on building the entire team. In much the same way with the human body, you never isolate and train individual muscles. If you can think of the complexity of the pelvic floor as a hammock that comes together to lift, you are going to engage that hammock and build up the endurance of the pelvic floor muscles. With Pilates, this area of the body is a specific target and, of course, because the nether parts are so intimately connected, this area is improved as well.

Dr. Siegel: Are Pilates exercises meaningful for male pelvic health?

Catherine Byron: As a certified trainer, fitness advocate, and owner of a Pilates studio, I can attest that no other core strengthening system compares with the conditioning program established by Joseph Pilates. For the very specific needs of the musculo-skeletal system of the male pelvis, these exercises are not merely a direct hit or even a home run, but a grand slam!

Dr. Siegel: Is Pilates good for sex?

Catherine Byron: I don’t think there is any other form of exercise that so directly targets the muscles used in sex. Pilates strengthens the exact muscles that are discussed in this book. During sex, there is a lot of pelvic movement. Moving the hips back and forth repeatedly requires more stamina than strength. Pilates-style exercises develop those muscles that function to stabilize and hold, the ones that provide endurance. Sex demands staying power of the backside of the pelvis, that is, the lower back region. In many exercise routines, there is way too much emphasis on the abdominals, developing the front side of the pelvis—the muscles that assist in the “pushing forward” phase. But the truth is, the more vital requirement is for the endurance of the lower back muscles that assist in the “pulling back” phase. It is the pulling back—the winding up so to speak—that is key to enable pushing forward. Also, muscle balance is an important prerequisite to proper movement and function. Balanced training of the entire pelvic region—the front, back, outside and inside—are essential for improved sexual performance. The 10-step program laid out at the end of this chapter will largely target these muscle groups.

Dr. Siegel: What are the key principles of Pilates?

Catherine Byron: Pilates principles are based on spinal alignment, muscle balance and core strength. Pilates emphasizes spinal alignment—properly positioning one’s hips, ribs, shoulders and head in their anatomically neutral positions. Pilates is a mind-body exercise—all movements are executed with control and strongly linked to breath. Pilates will develop a balanced body, meaning all muscle groups, on all sides of the body, are evenly developed. Core strength is stressed and the deep stabilizers of the spine are focused upon. Practicing these exercises will improve balance, stability, strength, and enhance flexibility through detailed articulation of all movements.

Dr. Siegel: As a Pilates instructor, what is your take on the human body?

Catherine Byron: As a fitness professional, I have 25 years of experience in observing the musculo-skeletal system of the human body in both its static (still) and functional (motion) states. I have always marveled at the human body and its well-conceived design. Nothing is happenstance as every bone, muscle, organ and system is perfectly engineered to harmonize with its counterparts. When this harmonious balance is disrupted, the body “speaks” by producing symptoms. It is through the understanding of these “symptoms” that we gain insight into not only our bodies but also ourselves.

Dr. Siegel: What symptoms occur when there is lack of balance or harmony?

Catherine Byron: Usually a stress point occurs, causing inflammatory conditions. Pain is a “shout out” by the body for attention. Many of the disorders described in this book can easily arise when the pelvic floor muscles and surrounding core area are not holding or functioning properly. When there is a lack of balance to the system or any kind of disruption occurs, “dis-ease” occurs.

Dr. Siegel: So how do we strive to achieve this balance?

Catherine Byron: Finding balance in our lives can be just as great a challenge as creating it in our bodies. The art of doing so comes with great discernment and requires the courage to be honest with ourselves as we determine what areas are in our power to change and what areas are not. It’s that age-old adage: we must accept what we cannot change and change what we can. You have clearly delineated the importance of recognizing what it is that we cannot change about our anatomy. Learning to accept what nature has given us is the first step towards the achievement of harmony with respect to our bodies and ourselves. The second step is identifying what changes can be made in order to improve one’s pelvic fitness as well as overall health and lifestyle.

Dr. Siegel: What can we change and what can’t we change?

Catherine Byron: You cannot change genetics. Your size, strength and even your flexibility to some degree are all dictated by hereditary factors. However, the specifics of your anatomy and how to properly use it can be taught and developed. By working with a professional trainer you can learn to retrain movement and function. My goal is to address those areas that can be changed through a 10-step Pilates-based program. The exercises are specially designed to empower you by improving pelvic health, strength and stability

Dr. Siegel: Before getting into the specifics of Pilates exercises, can you say a few words on general health and wellness?

Catherine Byron: Attitude and personal philosophy have a profound influence on our health. Before discussing the Pilates exercise program, there must first be a consideration of two major areas, lifestyle and mind-body connection. As a foundation for improving one’s health, it is imperative to be aware of our lifestyle habits. These include diet, exercise, sleep, stress management, attitude, etc. As you have acknowledged, it is important that diet and lifestyle be recognized as key players. When a physical disorder is traced back to its root cause, much of the time lifestyle and diet are implicated. In the quest towards health and fitness, introspection about one’s diet and lifestyle is a monumental step in the process of change and progress. If you want to improve, you must first be aware. Self-awareness is a fundamental prerequisite to self-improvement. Developing and refining the mind-body connection can be transformational and is capable of boosting an amateur athlete towards far greater levels if he has the right attitude and is willing to put in the time and effort.

To be continued next week.

 

A new blog is posted every week. To receive the blogs in the in box of your email go to the following link and click on “email subscription”:

www.healthdoc13.wordpress.com

Author of: Male Pelvic Fitness: Optimizing Sexual and Urinary Health; in press and available in e-book and paperback formats in late April 2014.

www.MalePelvicFitness.com

Author of Promiscuous Eating: Understanding and Ending Our Self-Destructive Relationship with Food: www.promiscuouseating.com

Available on Amazon in Kindle edition

Author of Finding Your Own Fountain of Youth: The Essential Guide For Maximizing Health, Wellness, Fitness & Longevity (free electronic download) www.findyourfountainofyouth.com

For more info on Dr. Siegel: http://about.me/asiegel913