Contraction Connections

By Riva Preil

Surprise: you are more connected to yourself than realized!  A study was recently published in the Journal of Neuroscience (October 8) which reveals pelvic floor muscle contractions are strongly connected with the activation of other muscles, particularly the gluteal muscles.  Jason Kutch, corresponding author of the study and assistant professor in the Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy at the USC Ostrow School of Dentistry, explains that when the pelvic floor muscle involuntarily contracts (say, to maintain continence or prevent flatulence), the gluteals automatically contract as well.

How did he prove this?  By employing ELECTROMYOGRAPHY, a tool that enables researchers to measure muscle contractions and co-activation patterns.  He discovered that when participants activated the gluteals, activation of the pelvic floor muscles occurred as well.  In essence, individuals were inadvertently performing Kegel exercises when activating the gluteals, however the same phenomenon did NOT occur when participants contracted intrinsic finger muscles.

In addition, Kutch and his team used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to analyze which area of the brain is activated during pelvic floor muscle, gluteal, and finger muscle activation. Not surprisingly, the same region of the brain, the medial wall of the precentral gyrus of the primary motor cortex, is activated both during pelvic floor and gluteal muscle activation.

Practically speaking, this research supports that which I have been telling my patients for years. Namely, that individuals who suffer from pelvic pain should NOT participate in Pilates or other intense core workouts that involve abdominal and gluteal contractions.  The reason I discourage them from doing so is that these types of exercises will inevitably contribute to further tightening and possible pain within the pelvic floor muscles.

Instead, patients with pelvic pain should participate in pelvic floor STRETCHING exercises. To learn more about whether or not pelvic floor stretches are appropriate for YOU, please contact us at Beyond Basics Physical Therapy, where we can help create an individualized pelvic floor muscle program based on your specific needs.


Stool Science

By Riva Preil

You loved her talk about anatomy two weeks ago and you couldn’t get enough about bladder chatter last Tuesday.  Well, guess what… Stephanie Stamas is back for more! On Tuesday, October 28th, at 7 PM, Stephanie will teach the next class in the series of The School of Pelvic Health entitled Why is Pooping So Difficult.

This class is a MUST for anyone who lives, breaths, eats, and digests on planet earth.  Yes, that includes you.

  • Have you ever wondered what is the proper position for passing bowel movements?
  • Ever wonder how sitting on the toilet affects the pelvic floor muscles, the muscles that need to relax in order to pass a bowel movement?
  • Also, how much water should an individual drink and how much fiber should one eat?  Heck, what IS fiber and what foods are good sources of fiber?
  • Why do I have to strain to pass a bowel movement?  Is that normal?

Don’t let these questions bother you any longer.  Stephanie will address these and many other related issues.  She will explain the proper muscle coordination required to pass a bowel movement and she will teach practical techniques that can be implemented immediately.

We look forward to meeting and greeting you on Tuesday evening, and we hope you continue to enjoy Stephanie’s classes!

Bladder Chatter

By Riva Preil

The School of Pelvic Health returns tonight, Tuesday October 21, 2014 (7:00 PM) with a fascinating class entitled Running to the Bathroom, Again!  Stephanie Stamas, physical therapist at Beyond Basics Physical Therapy, will discuss the urinary system’s anatomy and physiology.

She will then explain what happens when this system is not functioning properly, and she will elaborate upon urinary urgency (“I have to go and I have to go NOW!”), urinary frequency (constant feeling of needing to urinate, even if one has recently done so), and urinary incontinence (involuntary loss of urine).  Stephanie will explain the differences between the various types on incontinences, particularly stress, urge, and mixed incontinence.

Other topics that will be addressed are urinary tract infections (UTI), what increases the likelihood of developing a UTI, and how to distinguish between pelvic floor dysfunction and a UTI.  Stephanie will also address INTERSTITIAL CYSTITIS (IC), a common diagnosis that patients self-diagnose on WebMD, and the difference between pelvic floor muscle dysfunction, which often presents symptomatically as IC, versus actual IC.

Male pelvic floor issues will be addressed as well!  Stephanie will discuss prostatitis, prostatectomy, and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).  She will explain how physical therapy, including bladder retraining and irritant avoidance, can help address the aforementioned diagnoses.

Men and women alike stand to benefit tremendously from the information Stephanie will share with the class.  The class will conclude with a Q and A session, and many yummy, healthy treats will be available for participants.  Furthermore, a free DVD of “Healing and Abdominal Pain” will be distributed to all first time guests.

We look forward to seeing you on OCTOBER 21 AT 7:00 PM!  Please email any questions or comments to us at


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Uppity Science Chick

By Riva Preil

Dear readers, I have found SUCH an incredible and informative website that I simply MUST share it with you.  Not only because the quote on the homepage is fantastic, (“Well behaved women rarely make history,” Laurel Thatcher Ulrich), but because the evidence-based material on the website is amazing.

Kudos to Dr. Kathleen Kendall, PhD, for creating Uppity Science Chick, an educational and helpful website that provides an abundant amount of material for women.  Dr. Kendall discusses a wide array of topics including women’s health, breastfeeding, postpartum depression, Omega-3s, and obesity.  She provides articles and research for the material that she shares which enables readers to make informed health-related decisions.

According to Dr. Kendall, “I have had a lot of people ask me about why I started this site. It all started with some conversations with some male colleagues who implied, among other things, that “girls can’t do science.” Au contraire!  Not only can “girls” do science, but they are setting the world on fire with their discoveries. These studies can change your life. offers a forum for sharing current and noteworthy research on the mind-body connection and how it relates to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, trauma and PTSD, depression in new mothers, and breastfeeding.  I hope you find these studies to be helpful in your work–and life.”

Thank you, Dr. Kendall, for sparking our curiosity fires and providing us with the ability to learn and grow.  Not only are you a “girl who does science,” but you are an inspiration who is ROCKING THE RESEARCH.  Please keep the material coming!

WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU- please share your thoughts!  What is YOUR favorite article on Uppity Science Chick?

Be Cool, Stay in School

By Riva Preil

Get excited for the incredible new FREE seminar series at Beyond Basics Physical Therapy, The School of Pelvic Health!  This educational series, taught by our very own STEPHANIE STAMAS, is designed to inform individuals on pelvic floor muscle function, the connection between the pelvic floor and pain free movement, and to provide tools that will help participants improve bowel, bladder, and sexual function.  In addition, the seminars create a safe environment for patients to interact and build community with one another.

All seminars will be followed by a Q and A session for further discussion with Stephanie.  Also, classes will contain a practical component, during which Stephanie will teach a technique (ex. stretches, mindfulness and relaxation, diaphragmatic breathing) which will give participants a useful take home tool to improve their quality of life.

Speaking of take home tools, a free “Healing Pelvic and Abdominal Pain,” Amy Stein’s new self-care DVD, will be distributed to each first time guest.  In addition, a $20 voucher for products sold at Beyond Basics Physical Therapy, including Amy’s book Heal Pelvic Pain, meditation CDs, and massage stick will be given to individuals who attend five or more seminars.  Plus, snacks and beverages will be provided.  Knowledge, free DVDs and tools, and food…it’s the best of all worlds!

Stephanie will be teaching the first class on October 14 at 7:00 PM, entitled Something’s Wrong With my What?  It will be a review of pelvic floor muscle anatomy and its relationship to bowel, bladder, and sexual function.  Mark your calendars and be sure to join the launch of this fantastic new program!  The inaugural event is sure to be a hit, and we look forward to seeing you there!


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Next on The Pelvic Messenger: Dr. Khalid Khan

By Riva Preil

Get excited for International Pelvic Pain Society (IPPS) Conference in Chicago, October 23-26, 2014!  Some of the interesting topics at this year’s conference include updates on chronic pelvic pain, yoga for pelvic pain, and a fascinating Post-Conference Course, New Perspectives from The Integrated Systems Model for Women’s Health, from our blog talk radio superstar herself, Diane Lee.

Speaking of radio superstars, one of the other keynote speakers at IPPS will be Dr. Khalid Khan. Dr. Khan graduated from Medical School in 1989. Currently, he is a Professor of Women’s Health and Clinical Epidemiology at Barts and the London School of Medicine. His academic expertise is in patient-oriented health research and medical education. He has published over 200 peer reviewed journal articles making contributions in systematic reviews (meta-analyses), trials of treatments and tests, health technology assessments, and evaluation of educational methods. His book on Evidence-based Medicine has won the BMA medical book competition. He is Editor-in-Chief of British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.


In order to whet your appetites for the amazing topics he will cover at IPPS, I will be interviewing Dr. Khan on our blogtalk radio show The Pelvic Messenger on October 14 at 10:45 AM.  The topic of the show is Translating Translational Research: Let’s Get Practical with Dr. Khalid Khan.  Dr. Khan will explain translational research, the CROWN Initiative, the impetus behind it, and how to make the most from the vast sea of research being performed.  We will also address certain pre-natal and post-partum topics and myths, including whether or not inducing labor increases the likelihood of requiring C-section delivery.

To learn more about these and other fascinating topics, tune into the show on October 14!  I encourage and invite you to email questions in advance to  Looking forward to hearing from you!