Relaxation of the pelvic floor
Relaxation of the pelvic floor
WHAT IS A HYPERTONIC PELVIC FLOOR?
The pelvic floor is a group of muscles. Like all other muscles in the body, the muscles of the pelvic floor can become tense and sore. The easiest way of explaining what a hypertonic pelvic floor is, is to compare your pelvic floor muscles to the muscles in your shoulders. When you’ve been cold, stressed or have worked hard the muscles in your shoulders can feel so tense it’s impossible to relax them and lower your shoulders. In the same way your pelvic floor muscles can become tense and give rise to pain and other issues.
THE PELVIC FLOOR; A HAMMOCK
The pelvic floor muscles attach to the inside of the pelvis, similar to the suspension of a hammock. This ‘muscle hammock’ lifts and supports the bladder, uterus or prostate and rectum. When these muscles function optimally they will contract together to make sure we don’t pee or poop when we don’t want to, and will relax well when we do. The pelvic floor muscles are also important for sexual function in both men and women.
When these muscles become hypertonic they can cause pain or a frequent urge to urinate or difficulty voiding your bladder or emptying your bowel. There are also individuals who for different reasons have a combination of both weak and hypertonic pelvic floor muscles. In such a case it is important to first reduce the muscular hypertonicity before working on strengthening the muscles.
SYMPTOMS OF A HYPERTONIC THE PELVIC FLOOR:
- Frequent urges to pee
- Difficulty starting the flow of urine when peeing or difficulty voiding your bladder completely
- Pain while voiding your bladder
- Difficulty emptying your bowels
- Pain in your genital area or pelvis which cannot be explained by other causes
- Pain during or after intercourse or orgasm
HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE A HYPERTENSIVE PELVIC FLOOR?
To really know you will need someone to examine your pelvic floor muscles, such as a gynecologist or pelvic floor physiotherapist. The examination is done by palpating your pelvic floor muscles vaginally while you contract and relax your pelvic floor, and to see if pain can be triggered by pressing on any of the muscles. External palpation is not enough to make a complete assessment.
IS THERE SOMETHING I CAN DO TO REDUCE MY SYMPTOMS?
The most important things to reduce your symptoms can be done on your own!
Start by giving yourself enough time to pee and poop. Be mindful about relaxing and letting your muscles go rather than straining.
- Get going on self-care tips on how to reduce constipation
- Do relaxation and breathing exercises regularly at home
- Stop doing pelvic floor exercises (‘kegels’) until someone has assessed your pelvic floor muscles and says you can start again.
RELAXATION EXERCISES FOR THE PELVIC FLOOR
- Lie down and belly breathe, at least 10 deep breaths
- Apply a heating pad or hot water bottle on your genital area (on top of your panties) för 20-30 minutes before starting on the exercises which you feel are most difficult
- Imagine your pelvic floor is a hammock which has the ability to close around your anus, urethra and vaginal opening. Imagine gently lowering your pelvic floor and opening these three passageways. This exercise is the opposite of a pelvic floor contraction (“kegel”). Try to combine this exercise with belly breathing.
- Use the pelvic floor self massage technique shown here (Swedish post)
- Try the stretches shown here (Swedish post)
IN CASE THIS IS NOT ENOUGH
If the advice above is not enough you probably need to see a physiotherapist or other health care professional who offers hands on treatment for pelvic floor issues. Common treatments are manual therapy and stretching exercises in order to reduce hypertonicity and optimize your ability to control the muscles and their tension.
The online class ‘Become free from pain and hypertonicity’ is a 6 month program created for those with pain and pelvic floor issues. As of yet, the program is only available in Swedish. Read more about it here: Online classes
TRANSLATE WEBSITES WITH GOOGLE TRANSLATE:
This website is mainly in swedish. If you want to read more about pelvic floor issues and pelvic organ prolapse, you can use Google translate to read the swedish posts.
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