Pelvic Floor Says: Relax! Here Are Four Ways You Can.Jan 13, 2023
Our pelvic floor muscles make up the bottom of our core canister. It’s a trampoline-like group of muscles in our pelvis that have an effect on our bladder, bowel and sexual functions. The pelvic floor musculature can contract and lift upward, as well as relax and stretch downward.
Let’s think of the function of the muscles as an A-frame house in the figure below.
The dashed line represents where our muscle tension should be at rest. When we perform a pelvic floor lift (also known as a kegel), our muscles lift up into the “attic” and as our A-frame house comes to a point, our sphincters close even more. When we relax, our muscles should return to the first floor, baseline positions where the dashed lines are. Conversely, when we are delivering a baby or having a bowel movement, our muscles stretch downward into the “basement” which increases the space at the bottom of our pelvis allowing for elimination and elongation.
This blog will focus on downtraining and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles. If you are someone who holds tension at rest in the attic, this will help you get to the first floor at rest and teach your tissues how to effectively get to the basement.
- In a seated position, make c-shape with our hands and place them on the sides of your ribs.
- As you inhale, breathe into your low ribs, imagine your rib cage is expanding like an umbrella opening 360° around. This is your diaphragm contracting.
- Pay attention to your pelvic floor on the inhale, feel it move away from your center. If you are forcing or pushing, discontinue and just allow gravity to take over.
- As you exhale, allow the ribs to fall and the body to relax. This breath is for relaxation not contraction.
These postures can help stretch your pelvic floor muscles and even more so with diaphragmatic breathing involved.
- Happy Baby - lying on your back, bring your knees to the chest, then to the outside of your torso, hold the back of your thighs/calves or grab the outer edges of your feet, keep your spine elongated by reaching your tailbone and top of your head away from each other, allow the bottom of your pelvis to stretch, add in the 360° breathing here.
- Child’s Pose - starting in tabletop position, take your knees as wide as your mat and big toes come together, sit your hips back to your heels as your reach your arms forward and chest toward the floor, allow the bottom of your pelvis to stretch, add in the 360° breathing here.
- Imagine your sits bones are moving away from each other.
- Imagine your pubic bone and your tailbone moving away from each other.
- Imagine your vaginal opening or anal opening is a circle that is gradually getting bigger with each breath.
- Imagine your vulva or scrotum lowering toward your feet.
- Imagine your vagina or anus yawning open.
- Imagine the A-frame house and move from the attic to the first floor.
This work involves self awareness of your body and how certain emotions, activities or environments affect it. Keep a journal with you or take notes on your phone when you start to feel tension in your body and pelvic floor. Begin to take steps to breathe, recall the imagery techniques, and allow the pelvic floor to relax. Practicing guided meditation and progressive relaxation are great techniques to become aware of the tension in your body. I recommend taking a yoga nidra class or using a free app like the insight timer that has a plethora of guided meditations available. This step in identification is more than half of the battle in relaxing these muscles, and your awareness of this will improve your overall results.
If you are still experiencing pain, bowel, bladder and sexual dysfunction, we can help you!
Dr. Krystal PT, DPT, CMTPT RYT-200
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