We are all told to get exercise, walk, do yoga, but most have never heard of the crucial element of doing these things while in alignment.
When in alignment, gravity works with us and we work with gravity. When everything is stacked correctly, gravity flows down through our center, blood moves freely through our pelvis, and we move through a strong core (butt and belly) which hold it up.
Here lies information to provide a key missing piece in healing endometriosis. When your body is sedentary or out of alignment it may cause light or stubborn pain, but what you can't see is how lack of circulation, cell metabolism, and wacky-alignment affects your body under the skin, as circulation, strength, and immune activity is also decreased.
How does that directly affect endo? Well, did you know that it’s been know for many years (to scientists, not to any doctor I ever visited apparently) that menstrual cramps are made much worse when blood flow is restricted in the pelvic cavity during your period? What’s more, new research shows that it's more so in pelvises lacking blood flow all of the time. Meaning if blood isn’t freely moving through your pelvic cavity on a daily basis - bringing in oxygen and immune support while filtering out the waste particles - you’re automatically setting yourself up for monthly pain, or worse.
It sounds obvious, but it's best to really understand why. Biomechanist Katy Bowman explains it well: "We require unobstructed flow of these systems to maintain optimal health. For instance, hormones are messengers carried through the blood. The blood also transports oxygen, minerals, vitamins, glucose and amino acids. When blood flow is restricted, cells don’t get fed properly and communication is impaired resulting in hormonal imbalance. Lymph is like the garbage collector and the police force of the body. Restriction in the flow of lymph allows pathological debris to accumulate, causing acidity, pain, swelling, and inflammation.” So without proper circulation, places in your body are akin to a city under siege, with no nourishment coming in, and no avenues out for waste.
Katy Bowman also made this cool cartoon for us to better understand the basics of why we need to move better.
Sedentary Living - the new norm
So, how does a pelvic blood flow become minimized? Lack of movement and/or poor alignment. Imagine the hours you spent sitting in a chair or couch (car, train, school, work, conference, computer, movies, iPhone, etc etc), directly tightening your hips, weakening your glutes, restricting the pelvic floor. Consider this, even if you “exercise” for a full hour a day, percentage wise that’s only 4% of your entire week. And if you’re stuck sedentary for the rest of the 96%, chances are that your tight and inactive muscles stay tight and inactive during your activity hours. That means your suffocating pelvis, glutes, and core remain suffocated.
Just to start the conversation, jot down the amount of hours you sit in a chair like fashion. Consider eating 3 meals, driving, work, school, TV, instagraming, hanging with friends at a coffee shop, etc. If you consider this position - chair sitting - as a plug in your pelvic blood flow, you can begin to see that if you're sitting 70% of your waking hours, that it's having a negative impact on your endo.
As women with endometriosis it becomes worse since most of the time we're told to rest, lay down, recooperate, as if all the time laying on the couch will make the mysterious chronic illness go away. The unfortunate truth is sedentary days on the couch mean sedentary bodily functions inside your body, meaning your cells aren't working well enough to battle the grit inside.
Circulation, the Lymphatic System, and Endometriosis
Circulation isn't just getting blood from your heart to your feet, it's also getting it to every muscle and organ. Moreover, it's role is to get blood to every cell in every muscle and organ. To do this - this being to distribute blood evenly to reach every cell - your body uses your arteries to carry large amounts of blood to a site, then distributes to all the cells through an intricate network of teeny tiny blood vessels and capillaries.
This is important to understand because in between all these teeny tiny capillaries is your lymphatic system, which is a vital part of the immune system. You know, like when your lymph nodes in your neck become swollen when you're fighting off sickness? Same system. And it's all woven through your body as an intricate part of your circulatory system that bring white blood cells and lymphocytes to an area in distress, and removes negative debris, proteins, and bacteria. So as you see below, when your blood is dispersed through your body it brings oxygen and nutrients to your cells but ALSO powers your lymph systems, which removes the rubbish from those cells. They're both woven together like a beautiful organic tapestry!
Here's the conundrum: your body is smart, sometimes too smart, so if you're not using a muscle it will stop expending energy to keep those bitty capillaries alive and muscle vibrant. That means your body basiclaly reabsorbs any capillaries not in use since it's wasted energy (not using this muscle? Fine, no capillaries for you). This affects endo such: if you're gluteus medius in your core is underused and sadly atrophied, you can assume the circulation to this area is null. Meaning no food in, no waste out. Are you better understanding now how if your pelvic musculature is turned off your pelvis is basically being suffocated?
Luckily it's not hard to start growing new capillaries and re-create a vibrant whole-body circulatory system. All you have to do is start activating these "dead" muscle groups through simple activation exercises, and learn to train your strengthen your aerobic base. Truly, not hard, even if you're often in pain. This is why I'm also including a page about creating a strong aerobic base. Moving your body in accordance to these principles will help slowly increase circulation to all these little muscles we've put aside.
Let's get moving!
The below links go over new ways to move. There are small movements and big movements, movements that activate muscles that haven't turned on for a long time while loosening steel-strength-tension in others. These movements add up to start pushing your body back into the shape it's supposed to be in, and letting that valuable blood supply circulate freely.
Some of the alignment posts may seem far related to your endometriosis pain, like your tight calves for example. But in the spirit of holistic healing I’ll remind you that everything is connected. Yes, even your calves, which when tight won’t stretch enough while you squat - causing your butt to de-activate and tuck under - meaning your glutes weren’t able to fire and thus - less blood flow to the pelvic region and more tension in the lower back. Catch my holistic drift? Happy findings!
We were born to move with ease, but strap on shoes at a young age, sit in a chair for a few decades and BOOM, bodies are tight, weak, and unbalanced. Learn how poor alignment can affect your endometriosis, how breaking the molds of sedentary behavior can heal, and how to begin correcting it for better all around health.
Burn Fat, Not Sugar
Do you know the difference between aerobic and anaerobic? Do you know if you're a fat-burner or a sugar-burner? Learn how these two are ultimately intertwined, and how building your aerobic base will allow you to become less stressed, injured, or ill.