Before you start reading this, take a moment to ponder this beautiful scene at Glenelg
These days I spend half my working day telling women (and men) to tighten their pelvic floor to help manage urinary incontinence and prolapse.
Then the other half, I tell women (and men and children) to relax their tummy muscles and their pelvic floor.
You’d be surprised how big a problem over-tightening abdominal and pelvic floor muscles is. Between women’s magazines that emphasize the ubiquitous 6 pack and the increased awareness of the importance of pelvic floor exercises, suddenly it seems that every second patient is over-clenching…….everything.
Overly-tight muscles can lead to some pretty serious problems such as dysfunctional voiding, obstructed defaecation, pelvic pain and sexual dysfunction. These problems are common presentations to Continence and Women’s Health Physiotherapists and one of the first, important things that we often do when patients present with any of these issues is to simply work on breath awareness. For different reasons, from time to time, we all breathe really badly.
When stress and anxiety overwhelms you, cortisol and adrenaline floods through your body and your breathing becomes more shallow and fast – which can blow off more carbon dioxide and make you feel dizzy.
So let’s take a moment out to …….just breathe. Follow this gif below for a couple of minutes.
Was that amazing? Just to stop and breathe? Try it next time you feel you can’t think straight because you have too much to do- just stop and do some relaxed breathing. Place your hand on your tummy and as you breathe in, your tummy will rise and as you breathe out your tummy drops away.
The next thing to try more often randomly through the day is to just let your tummy go. We are so trained to hold our stomach in and have a flat abdomen, that it can feel very alien for a women (and men particularly who workout at the gym) to just let it go and relax. This is something you should do 4 or 5 times a day, as it can make a huge difference to some basic bodily functions: emptying your bladder properly; defaecating more easily and completely; decreasing any pelvic pain (including penile and testicular pain especially if you are a cyclist) and allowing easier penetration with intercourse.
Positions for emptying bladder and bowel (for men and women)
So can managing these personal, debilitating painful conditions be as simple as stopping and taking time to observe a beautiful scene, breathing effectively and relaxing our muscles? Why don’t you try it for a couple of weeks and see what you feel! Also read about the role of the brain in many of the blogs that are contained in this blog. And now that virtual reality is being used to help people manage chronic pain feel free to take a moment to ponder this beautiful scene.
The beauty of the Mediterranean viewed from Ravello, Italy.