Do you frequently need to use the bathroom or have lower back pain without a known cause? You may have an overactive pelvic floor. Pelvic floor dysfunction can often be overlooked but can cause many problems if it is not treated.
Around one-quarter of women in Canada experience an overactive pelvic floor, and pelvic floor dysfunction is also common for men. Pelvic floor dysfunction is when you cannot correctly relax your pelvic floor muscles. However, the good news is there are ways to treat pelvic floor dysfunction.
Do you suspect you have pelvic floor dysfunction? Read on to learn more about pelvic floor dysfunction and the top five techniques to address it.
Overactive Pelvic Floor Symptoms
An overactive pelvic floor can cause various symptoms because the pelvic floor muscles support many organs. These organs include the bladder, colon, and uterus.
If you experience any of the following symptoms, you could have an overactive pelvic floor:
- Painful urination
- Unexplained lower back pain
- Pain in genitals or pelvic region without a known cause
- Frequently needing the bathroom
- Forcing bowel or urine movement
- Interrupted urination
Overactive pelvic floor symptoms can differ in men and women. For example, some men can also experience erectile dysfunction. There are many causes of pelvic floor dysfunction, including pregnancy, genetics, overuse, pelvic surgery, and aging.
Treat an Overactive Pelvic Floor
An overactive pelvic floor can cause a range of uncomfortable symptoms, but there are many ways to manage and treat it. If you suspect you have pelvic floor dysfunction, it is best to get a diagnosis to rule out any other issues. However, these five tips will get you started.
1. Diaphragmatic Breathing
Around 80% of people have breathing dysfunctions and have developed poor breathing techniques. But did you know these breathing techniques can also impact your pelvic floor?
The primary breathing muscle is the diaphragm, which pushes the abdominal contents down while the pelvic floor muscles lengthen, and vice versa. So, focusing on the correct diaphragmatic breathing technique can help ensure your pelvic floor muscles relax instead of remaining in contractions.
Try the following technique to connect with diaphragmatic breathing:
- Place a hand on your heart and one on your stomach
- Inhale deep to the count of three, focusing on expanding your stomach
- Exhale to the count of four, drawing your belly button towards the spine
- Repeat for five to ten minutes
You can choose the length of the inhales and exhales if it is comfortable for you. Instead of shallow chest breathing, you want the hand on your stomach to rise and fall. With diaphragmatic breathing, the exhale helps your pelvic floor muscles return to a resting state.
2. Stretches for Pelvic Floor Muscles
Once you have mastered diaphragmatic breathing, you can incorporate some stretches into your treatment for pelvic floor dysfunction. Stretches can help you focus on the pelvic floor muscles and notice if you are tightening them.
Common stretches to try include:
- Happy baby pose
- Child’s pose
- Reclined pigeon pose
- Reclined butterfly
Some of these poses have different names under different disciplines, such as reclined pigeon pose. It also has a Sanskrit name, Supta Kapotasana, and is known as a Piriformis stretch. These exercises are gentle, and you can use props to ease into each posture.
3. Visualization Techniques
Visualization techniques are used in a variety of ways, such as to improve sleep and calm anxious thoughts. However, visualization techniques can also help relax your pelvic floor muscles. For example, you can picture the pelvic floor muscles relaxing in your mind as you breathe into the area.
Alternatively, you can visualize your pelvic floor muscles in different ways to help with relaxation, including:
- A relaxing color filling your pelvic floor area
- Imagine your pelvic floor like a flower, which blooms as you relax
You can find a visualization technique that works for you. The key is to focus on the pelvic floor muscles to address tightness. Many people unconsciously tighten their pelvic floor muscles, so visualization can help them identify the hold and release it.
4. Pelvic Floor Relaxation Techniques
Many other pelvic floor relaxation techniques can help you release tension. You can practice squeezing and relaxing your pelvic floor muscles in solid and short lifts with full releases ten times. However, it is best to get guidance on how to do techniques properly so you do not cause more damage.
You can also try full-body relaxations, such as guided body scans or yoga Nidra. Simply giving yourself 30 minutes to lie down with a pillow under your knees can help relax your pelvic floor muscles and reduce any stress you are experiencing in general. Use a warm pack on your lower stomach to help relax your pelvic floor muscles further.
5. Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy
It is best to see a physiotherapist to address an overactive pelvic floor. They have the expertise to show you how to relax your pelvic floor muscles with various exercises correctly.
They also carry out other treatment options, such as biofeedback therapy, which helps retrain your pelvic floor muscles. A physiotherapist will be able to determine what exercises work best for your case, targeting your individual needs. After all, causes and overactive pelvic floor symptoms can differ in each individual.
Physiotherapists can also help examine and determine if you do have an overactive pelvic floor. They will be able to create a plan with you to regain your pelvic health.
Stop Pelvic Floor Dysfunction
You do not have to accept the symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction. Follow these tips to manage and treat an overactive pelvic floor. However, do not try to manage your pelvic floor dysfunction alone; there is help out there so you can recover quickly.
Are you looking for pelvic floor physiotherapy in Ontario, Canada? Reform Pelvic Health Physiotherapy is here to help. We are committed to providing evidence-based physiotherapy services in the Brampton area.
We have specialized female, male, and pediatric pelvic therapy techniques to help you regain control over your life. Contact us today to learn more about our services.