In order to improve pelvic floor dysfunction, we need to understand how we got it to begin with! We need to know what we do unintentionally that keeps it going and what is needed to push us in the direction of improvement and hopefully the end of pelvic floor dysfunction. In this blog, we will first go over the common signs and symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction, some of which are generally looked at as separate problems (which is a disservice), and what you can do on your own to take control of the issues that are easily manageable by you.
What Are The Signs and Symptoms Of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction?
As stated in my blog, ‘Alternatives to Manual Treatment of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction‘, “Pelvic floor dysfunction symptoms are so wide that most often unless it ‘screams’ to be a pelvic floor issue, they get missed. They can include:
- Weak pelvic floor muscles
- Painful intercourse
- Erectile dysfunction
- Urinary incontinence
- Fecal incontinence
- Pain in the testicle
- Pain in the vulva
- Pain around the anus
- Pain in bladder
- Chronic bladder dysfunction
- Interstitial cystitis (aka painful bladder syndrome)
- Chronic UTI or urinary tract infection
- Lower back pain
- Sacroiliac pain
- Lower mid back pain
- Hip(s) pain
- And bad posture”
Take a look at the list again and you will see that the last 8 are easily looked at as separate issues and not a potential prelude to pelvic floor dysfunction. That has to change and every one of those needs to be looked at as a subtle sign and treated with exercises and lifestyle modifications as if they are pelvic floor dysfunction.
What Does Comprehensive Pelvic Floor Treatment Include?
In yet another blog about Yoga and Pelvic Floor Dysfunction, I explore the highlights of what I consider the most holistic and comprehensive treatment for all types of pelvic floor dysfunction even when surgery is indicated. In the latter case or similar instances, the treatment becomes a post-surgical suggestion or an adjunct to other medical intervention procedures that supersede.
- “Behavior modification which is always part of the solution list to all issues (your behavior about life changes how you do everything in life), is not going to correct any dysfunction fully but addresses some of the feeders of the problem.
- Postural Neurology: Movement is like a concert and the body parts are like the musicians; in that the musicians not only need to know their part but to know when to chime in and phase out. That means the pelvis and pelvic floor need to know how to ‘play’ with the rest of the body if they are to sustain their strength and integrity. This is what Postural Neurology is all about.
- Functional Movement: Common sense says that the most authentic way to move is the way babies move. After all, all babies from all over the world go through the same developmental stages of movement (Developmental Kinesiology) which means that we are hard-wired to move that way. So if the issue is movement-related or supported, then we should see how we compare to the way we moved as babies. All discrepancies are then highlighted and can be corrected through Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization (DNS) exercises which are baby movements.
- Kegels? There are machines like the Emsella Chair that do 400 Kegels per minute involving all of the muscles of your pelvic floor and not the ones that you hope to be engaging. Note that Kegel exercises are not for all types of incontinence and pelvic floor muscle issues.
- Breathing is what babies do automatically and that is what we need to do in order to sustain the bottom of the breathing apparatus, the pelvic floor!
- Internal manual work which ideally should be done to assess the muscles inside the pelvis BUT does not have to be done in all cases.”
- Nutrition: Avoid Citrus, caffeine, soda, artificial sweeteners, spicy foods and take collagen, Vit. C, Vit. D, Omega 3, protein if no conflict with any other conditions that suggest their avoidance.
- Ergonomics: Sit on an exercise ball vs a chair, get a keyboard that is as wide as your shoulders, limit your sitting to no more than one hour and alternate with standing, make sure the middle of your monitor is at the eye level to name a few.
- Postural Awareness: It is important to pay attention to the posture and catch yourself when not standing on both feet, slouching, shifting the pelvis forward and in front of the ankles. Best to associate the increase in attention with activities done each day; for instance, when talking to someone to pay attention to the feet and pelvis positioning.
- Sleeping habits: do not sleep on the stomach and if you are a stomach sleeper, to get a body pillow to minimize that.”
Best Exercises For Pelvic Floor Dysfunction
My YouTube channel is packed with the exercises that I find helpful for my patients with pelvic floor dysfunction which I recommend you visit and subscribe to. The key here is to assure postural stability, the torso remaining the stabilizer while the upper and lower extremities, as per design, behave as the movers and do-ers. This in my opinion is only achievable when the blueprint of movement is looked at through an exam geared for that (Postural Neurology) and then the movement and poses that practice stability, coordination, and synchronicity in movement through DNS or Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization.
If you have pelvic floor dysfunction or suspect you may have pelvic floor dysfunction, do not hesitate to contact me.