In today’s episode, I talk with the amazing Solange Ross! She is a Women’s Health Physical Therapist trained in evaluating pelvic floor muscles. She works with women in all stages of their life to help educate them on how the pelvic floor fits into movement and exercise through their daily lives.
One of the topics we talk about today is body awareness. Since everyone’s body is different, developing your body awareness becomes increasingly important. If you can teach your mind to recognize what your body is doing, it is a complete game changer! We also dive into topics that affect women every day: back pain, abdominal issues, nutrition, movement and SO much more!
Solange Ross is a women’s health physical therapist trained in the evaluation of the pelvic floor muscles. Solange works with women prenatally to prepare for birth, postpartum to heal, and in all stages of life to understand how the pelvic floor fits into movement and exercise. Solange uses a full body approach to treatment, looking at breathing, movement, posture, physical demands on the body, and how areas of the body interact with one another. She bridges the importance of daily function and activities into her treatment sessions and empowers women to be active participants in their healing. Solange is also a Franklin Method Educator and integrates the Franklin Method into her physical therapy practice.
Find Solange at Complete Core by Solange by going to www.completecorenyc.com!!
Important Pieces From Today’s Episode
Erica: I’m so excited you’re here, I swear, we could talk for days and days about core and movement. So, how did you get started in the women’s health field and then at one point specializing with more pelvic floor training than physical therapy?
Solange: What brought me into women’s health was one of my classmates from physical therapy school, she really exposed me to this field. As a new graduate, I went on to work for her practice and she exposed me to this whole new idea of movement and I was like, “this is amazing and I wished that this was the information that I had in the years prior to teaching exercise and in my personal journey.”
Erica: Yes, why isn’t this stuff being taught in schooling? So much of what you and I discover is through movement. It’s life-changing.
Solange: And it’s interesting when you’re in that schooling world and your focus is on absorbing all of this information. You have got to know the origin and the insertion and innervation of this muscle; you are being overloaded with all of this information and then you have to spit it out onto an exam. But why not try experiencing these things with the body. Let’s not just look at it and have the picture, let’s take it and feel it to see what our movement is like.
Erica: Exactly and that’s what I’m talking about when I say feeling the connections through your body and that includes fascia, which I know is something you are really big on as well. So I know more recently because I see your stuff on Instagram. You guys have to follow her on Instagram, what is your name on there?
Erica: So Solange posts different things on her Instagram like her holding a pelvis. It’s now on my to-do list, I want a full skeleton so I can teach with it.
Solange: If you came to my apartment and looked in my closet, you would see that I have arranged a whole disarticulated skeleton.
Erica: Oh, I love it. See we could talk for days about these dorky little things. Back on track! What is the biggest issue that you see when a client first comes to you?
Solange: It usually has something to do with their abdominal area. Whether they don’t like the way it looks or there is some sort of pain there. Then I start my questioning and go into their history; that’s also where I start to probe about the pelvic floor. I want them to see how the abdominal relates to the pelvic floor and the back. It is also a chance for them to see how all of this works together when we breathe. I know they want to get into exercise, and we are going to get there, but we have to begin with how your body is moving in the day-to-day. There’s so much movement that moms are doing that is completely discounted. If I give them five exercises and they do that for an hour, there’s no way that that would compete with the physicality of being a mom for those other 23 hours of the day.
They come looking for the abs, but I put into perspective that we have to look at it as a system. It is not only about the abs, but it is also more about the daily function and how we are using our body in daily function
Erica: I’m so glad you brought that up. I look back and prior to kids, I would work out really hard and too much. It’s really hard to get out of that mindset that we have to workout hard to see the benefits. It’s not calorie in, calorie out. It’s so much more. There is so much we can do to get our body to move and function better. And this is what I want to get across is this awareness. There are so many women that say to me, “I just thought incontinence during a workout was normal,” because that is whatever other mom tells me. And while it might be normal, it’s not okay and we can do something about it.
Solange: I think that that piece goes back to the whole postpartum mindset of getting your body back to the way it was before pregnancy and wanting it done so quickly. When you do that, you aren’t allowing your body time to heal or taking the right steps to build a good foundation. Going beyond that, perhaps in our prenatal life, we didn’t have as strong of a foundation as we thought. It then becomes this beautiful time to meet your body, which for some it may be the first time they really learn about how these deep muscles work and to feel them again, or even feeling them for the first time.
Erica: It makes such a difference, and I am really seeing it with women in my Knocked-Up Fitness Membership. You can learn so much when you are pregnant, which can have such a positive impact on your delivery and in the postpartum phase. Wherever you are right now, is the best time in your life to start learning to better your body. Solange is an advisor for my Core Rehab program because I wanted to make sure what I was teaching correlated well with the PT world. So I created this program online so I could reach more people these basic concepts but implementing them in a way you have never experienced before. After baby, so many moms want to get back into that high-intensity training that they were doing before pregnancy, but we really need to pull back the reins and reconnect because your body has gone through so much. It really makes what you are doing so much more effective.
Solange: Being able to feel those muscles and see how they fit into exercise and your daily life, that’s huge.
Erica: My husband and I were watching a football game a couple of weeks ago, and you see that type of athlete that tends to be much more muscular. But those are the ones that are going to walk away with more injury because of their improper connection. Then you get someone who is doing more of the fascial training who might not look as fit, but they are feeling so much better than the football player might be feeling. I want to dive into this with you because I know you do your Franklin training which is all about fascia, breathing and movement.
Solange: Yes, with the Franklin Method, we look at how the body has evolved. What is the design and function of the different parts of the body? Then we look at how those parts are designed to move as we feel that within our body and apply it to various exercises. You are working your muscles in a balanced fashion as opposed to pushing things really hard. To take it one step further, there is so much imagery in the Franklin Method, that once you understand the design and function, you are using this imagery to have an overall better experience and increase the quality of that movement.
Erica: I love imagery. There is a power in seeing what someone is queuing. I use it, especially with lengthening. If you forget everything else, at least do that.
Solange: Definitely, you can learn how to use different forms of imageries to have a better experience in your body. I am excited to be bridging the Franklin Method into physical therapy because as a PT I am the healer. I am teaching someone to have more awareness in their body and that starts by going to the mind. Then I start to get them to move and notice how different positioning affects their body and the way that they feel; it becomes more of a self-discovery within your body.
Erica: Do you have a good visual that you can talk our viewers through?
Solange: Yes. Whether you are sitting or lying down, find your sits bones; that boney part of your butt. When you reach that place, rest one hand on your chest and the other hand on your lower belly, near your bikini area. Take a deep breath in and notice where your breath is going. See which hand is moving and visualize that breath coming from your diaphragm. Visualize your belly and pelvic floor giving in, and then as you exhale feel the slight rise and your belly gently flattening while finding that rhythm. This give that we are feeling is not pushing out or letting go. It’s actually an increase in tone. We aren’t doing anything, it’s lengthening. I notice people getting hung up on the exhale as are trying so hard to connect that it becomes too forceful. So put in less effort and notice the power of breathing. People say to me, “so what is the exercise here?” And that was the exercise.
Erica: Just bringing a little more awareness to your core can take your breath back by half and makes it go deeper as it’s more optimal for your body. Everything is integrated. For instance, you can’t have a strong pelvic floor if your glutes and hamstrings aren’t working properly. And this goes for your breath too as it is such an important piece that gets overlooked; it’s so complex, but yet so effective.
Solange: When you begin to connect more you begin to feel more in your body, and the simplest of exercises suddenly become this whole new way that you are moving your body.
Erica: It’s pretty darn amazing what the body is capable of.
Solange: I look at it as the tools are right here in front of you. You just have to find the time to implement these tools into your movement. And that is what I love about your Core Rehab program is that you show them the tools, you teach them the tools that they can use to transform their body. If you know you will have 10 minutes between lunch and before you have to go back to work, you can listen to one tutorial or you have a 45-minute break you could do a little bit longer workout. And these workouts make you move in such a more holistic way that is good for your body rather than running for 30 minutes. It is good information for your body to absorb.
Erica: It makes you reevaluate how your body is functioning and moving. It is never too late to start improving your body, and it is never too early to prevent your body from feeling certain aches and pains. In society today, it is taught that you are supposed to be feeling these pains and having this incontinence and it doesn’t have to be that way! I want to de-myth the whole way we think about the things that come with motherhood.
Solange: In the beginning, you ask yourself how am I going to find the time to heal yourself. Once you start giving the body healthy, function movements the way that it is designed to move.
Erica: If you just start, and then three months down the road you will be blown away at the improvement in your body and how you feel. Solange, do you have any other quick takeaways of ways to improve their quality of life?
Solange: I would just say to everyone that can’t seem to find the time for self-care, that the time is now. We don’t have to plan out time in our day to start implementing these better habits. We can be anywhere to start noticing how we are sitting, how we are standing, how we are getting up and down from a chair. It doesn’t even have to be for a long period of time, even if it is just for 30 seconds you are bringing awareness to something. Knowing that there is so much power in self-care. If you missed noticing how you were sitting in the car because you weren’t paying attention, guess what? There is another opportunity coming along.