We come into the world with flat feet and a totally straight spine. Our three pelvic organs, bladder, uterus, and rectum are carried high in the infant torso, and in line with their channels, the urethra, vagina, and anus.
As we begin to crawl, our pelvis is in the quadrupedal position, just like that of four-legged animals. The pelvis is positioned like a ring on its edge, with the pubic bones underneath the body like straps of a saddle.
When we stand up and walk, our pelvis does not rotate backward into a “bowl” shape, but stays in the very same position it was in when we were crawling. Unlike non-human primates, who must rotate their spine and pelvis as one unit to stand upright, we humans stand up by profoundly curving our lumbar spine. This means we don’t have a soft tissue “pelvic floor” underneath the body, but rather a wall of muscle at the back.
Human females have a genetically more pronounced lumbar curvature than males. Each time we take a breath in, our respiratory diaphragm comes all the way down to our last set of ribs. In doing so, it pushes the intestines, bladder, and uterus down and forward.
By three years of age we have developed pronounced lumbar curvature, and our three pelvic organs have bent a full 90º away from their channels. Like a kink in a garden hose, these angles act as passive sphincter
mechanisms to prevent pelvic organ prolapse and urinary and fecal incontinence. Lumbar curvature is vital to keeping the pelvic organs positioned at the front of the body, and away from the pelvic outlet at the back. It also positions the center of mass of the body evenly over the arched, symmetrical roof of the hip joint.
The human foot arches are developing through early childhood as well, and are also a critical aspect of female pelvic organ support. The natural range of motion of the foot allows the back knee to straighten while walking. This extension lifts the tailbone, maintains lumbar curvature, and keeps the pelvic organs pushed forward against the lower belly.
When we lose the natural shape of the foot and the arches begin to flatten, the back knee does not completely straighten while we walk. In turn, lumbar curvature tends to flatten and the pelvic organs are pulled backward from the lower abdominal wall.
Over time, the bladder and uterus bulge into the front vaginal wall, and the rectum bulges into the back vaginal wall. Prolapse is not a rare occurrence, but happens in the majority of adult women throughout the modern world.
Lumbar curvature can be diminished by other means, such as sitting in soft furniture, car seats, and by chronically pulling in the abdominal wall. However, loss of the natural shape of the feet is a major contributing factor. The female pelvic organ support system is a postural system, and Whole Woman posture re-creates the natural structural alignment of the female spine and pelvis.
Although evident in young girls, ancient artwork, and women living in traditional life ways, Whole Woman posture is unique in the modern world. Yoga, Pilates, and physical therapy all teach that the abdominal wall should be pulled in, which compromises lumbar curvature and pelvic organ support.
Restoring natural posture is a head-to-toe process, which includes restoring structural support to the feet. The ways in which we restore natural foot alignment is by (1) walking in Whole Woman posture with feet pointing straight ahead, (2) going barefoot as much as possible, and wearing wide toe-box shoes, and (3) wearing Correct Toes® toe spacers.
Correct Toes® restore the wide base of support the rest of the body depends upon to align correctly under the forces of gravity. As a result, symptoms of pelvic misalignment have a much greater chance of being stabilized and reversed.
We were proud to feature Correct Toes® at the 2016 Whole Woman Conference in Albuquerque New Mexico, and our Whole Woman Practitioners have begun to regularly suggest Correct Toes® to their clients.
Thank you, Dr. McClanahan, for helping women restore their natural posture, and reverse symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse, incontinence, and chronic hip pain.