Pelvic floor dysfunction is much more common than people realize. And it goes beyond the ordinarily thought of symptoms such as urinary incontinence, fecal incontinence, pelvic pain, and sexual dysfunction. The most overlooked, yet most fundamental, protocol for ALL symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction is biological breathing. This is explored in this blog.
If you think you’ve got this down and know how to breathe, you are most likely mistaken. You are clearly breathing to stay alive but there is the right way of breathing and a not-so-right way to breathe. If we look at all children on the planet, with the exception of those with health issues at birth, we see one thing in common! That is breathing and movement development. This gives us a better understanding of how we are programmed to breathe and move. So if we learn the details of breathing and movement development, we can duplicate, master, and rehabilitate almost any musculoskeletal dysfunction.
There is more to breathing than just keeping us alive! Breathing is like a power button on your computer! It doesn’t matter which or how much software you have, or what your intention of having the software is. The computer has to turn on in order for you to do whatever it is you are doing. If the ‘on’ button is iffy, then your computer gets messed up from the power surge. When your breathing is not ideal, every system in your body is impacted. And that includes your postural stability and muscular performance, both of which are related to pelvic floor dysfunction.
What Is Pelvic Floor Dysfunction?
Proper breathing techniques can help alleviate some of the discomfort caused by PFD and prevent further damage to the pelvic floor muscles. We will discuss the connection between breathing and pelvic floor dysfunction. This includes how diaphragmatic breathing and pursed-lip breathing exercises can help manage PFD symptoms.
If pelvic floor dysfunction was the name of a book, this book would have many chapters. Some of which you already know and some, you may not have considered as pelvic floor dysfunction. This is discussed in detail in my blog: “Subtle signs of pelvic floor dysfunction”.
Mistakes In Breathing For Pelvic Floor Dysfunction
There are a series of mistakes I see happening with breathing and here is the list of what you should be doing:
- Breathe in and out through your nose and not the mouth.
- Practice breathing biologically every day first thing in the morning and evening before getting up and falling asleep.
- Breathe in thinking of the abdominal diaphragm going down towards your feet.
- Breathe in and push the rib cage outward.
- In an attempt to breathe deep, think about pushing the sides of your body out vs pushing the stomach out.
- Place your hands on the lowest part of your torso where your pelvis is connected and feel your hands pushed out when inhaling.
- Do not feel the vagina/penis contracting when breathing in.
- Do not feel the anus contracting when breathing in.
- When breathing out, first feel as if there is a ‘jelly fish’ that you are trying to pull in from the vagina/penis!
- Pull the jellyfish in gently and deeply and that is the beginning of the breathing out.
- Keep the spine neutral and ON the floor, including the lower back spine.
This may sound silly, or easy but give it a try and you will see that it is not as easy as you may think. Here is a video that should help you.
There are so many different ways that clinicians use to try to communicate breathing and I have to tell you that from the biomechanical perspective, they are not correct.
The Importance of Breathing and Pelvic Floor
The reason breathing is important is that it allows a more robust apparatus, a barrel of a kind, that allows the stability of the posture. As well as the movement of different parts of your body without losing stability. THAT is the most ignored part of the treatment for pelvic floor dysfunction because most therapists are too busy attending to the ‘floor’ when the ‘house’, your pelvis, is unstable.
By breathing the way outlined above, you are able to engage the muscles of the pelvic floor when needed and relax them at the right time. Lack of synchronicity and harmony in the muscles of the pelvic floor is the exact reason why they can become tight. This can result in not knowing when to relax the muscles and overall deconditioning. I strongly suggest reading my blog on the anatomy of the pelvic floor to understand how the muscles involved in pelvic floor dysfunction are not necessarily accessed via internal manual work.
Breathing is the first fundamental step to proper treatment of pelvic floor dysfunction but is not the only step. If you have pelvic floor dysfunction or have received treatment but have not reached the result you want, do not hesitate to contact me.