Pelvic floor dysfunction has many signs and symptoms and regardless of it you have a weak pelvic floor or spastic pelvic floor, one thing that has to happen is the correct breathing for pelvic floor dysfunction. This will initiate the activation or relaxation depending on what the problem is. You may have any of the following, but what has to happen first is the right way to breathe and if you think you got that down, you may be surprised:
- Urinary incontinence
- Fecal incontinence
- Gas incontinence
- Hip pain
- Lower back pain
- Chronic pelvic pain
- Pain in the penis or vagina
Why Is Functional Breathing Important?
Breathing when done correctly, provides a strong axial line that helps in stabilizing the trunk or torso. Your trunk has to be strong and pull its own weight so the legs and arms can do what they are supposed to do, which is to move around, be fast, and be precise.
Newborn babies have a big tummy compared to the rest of their body and that is because they use their breathing apparatus correctly. All babies breathe the same way and the right way. We are all programmed to breathe that way but as time goes by and we start doing sports, picking hobbies that require sitting, not being active, injuring ourselves, and more our breathing gets altered and becomes dysfunctional and THAT becomes the beginning of the downward spiral.
What Is The Right Way To Breathe?
To formulate the right way to breathe, the steps below are to be followed. Just a heads up, it is not as easy to do them but don’t give up, with practice, they all come together.
- Breathing in/out of the nose
- Feel the expansion of the lower chest (ribcage) with breathing in
- Feel the pressure going down to the lower part of the abdomen just above the pubic bone
- Feel the expansion of the side of the trunk and the lower abdomen (above the pubic area) simultaneously
Think about a big barrel with the bottom being the pelvic floor, the top being the abdominal diaphragm, and the sides being the sides of your torso. The front is the abdomen from the chest bone to the pubic bone and the back of your body is the back of the barrel. With each breath, the pressure against the bottom of the barrel increases and decreases but with practice, your goal is to not lose the pressure.
When it comes to breathing, some pelvic floor therapists suggest squeezing the anus (in people with a vagina) to activate the engagement of the pelvic floor. I am not a fan of that because over-activation of the muscles around the anus, over time creates other sets of problems that we then need to go to fix.
How To Breathe For A Healthier Pelvic Floor
Touch the lowest part of your torso on the side as it gets closer to the hip, the two bones you feel are the edges of your pelvis. Imagine your pelvis is a bowl with the bladder in the front (by the pubic bone), the uterus and ovaries or prostate in the middle, and the colon in the back.
You want to make sure the ‘bowl’ is not tipped forward or backward but is neutral. All exercises you do for the pelvic floor require this simple principle always. Now, if you imagine again that there is a wrap on top of this bowl, the pressure from your breath, coming past the abdominal diaphragm toward the ‘bowl’ should be across the whole wrap and not the middle portion. That is how you get pressure on the side of your trunk in place.
Now imagine the intra-abdominal pressure, the pressure between your abdominal diaphragm and the ‘wrap’ pushes this ‘wrap’ down to the ‘bowl’ a little, and then it reverses upward when breathing out. This way of breathing is not easy to do but it is the right way to breathe. If all babies breathe this way automatically, we must all be programmed to breathe that way, right?
Breathing is like turning on a computer. You have many programs and software on your computer but without it turned on, you won’t be able to access any of them. Breathing is the foundation of all functions in your body and when it comes to pelvic floor dysfunction, it is the absolute first step in correction and treatment of it. We, humans, have come up with so many different versions of breathing, but common sense states that the one breathing that we all have done, and all babies do without any ‘instruction’ is the one that is in sync with our biology and physiology.
If you need help with your pelvic floor dysfunction or if your treatment for pelvic floor dysfunction has not been successful, contact me.