Pelvic floor dysfunction affects both men and women and causes commonly associated symptoms such as:
- Urinary incontinence
- Painful intercourse
- Pelvic pain
- Chronic lower back pain
- Chronic sacroiliac pain
- Hip pain and restriction
- And poor posture to name a few
There are many treatments available but lifestyle changes can have a significant impact on managing pelvic floor dysfunction and improving symptoms. In this blog, we will first cover some of the subtle signs of pelvic floor dysfunction, the comprehensive holistic treatment for pelvic floor dysfunction, and the top lifestyle changes to improve the symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction.
Signs Of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction Most People Don’t Know About
According to the blog, “Subtle signs of pelvic floor dysfunction“, some of the symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction are commonly known but some providers and patients consider them to be unrelated. Of course, if we address all problems when they are not ‘loud’, we have a much better chance of avoiding them becoming more complex and serious. The subtle signs of pelvic floor dysfunction that I wished people would pay attention to in a timely manner are:
- “Lower back pain
- Pain in the back joints of the pelvis (SI Joints)
- Pain in the front pubic area
- Arched lower back
- Slouched lower back
- Slouched mid-back or hunchback
- Military posture with the chest pushed out
- A V-stance where the torso is positioned behind the hip joints on the side view
- Chronic forward neck
- Inability to bend down below the knees
- Habitually standing on one leg with the other leg bent
- Chronic one-sided pain in the lower extremity
- Hip pain on one or both sides”
What Is The Holistic Approach To Treating Pelvic Floor Dysfunction?
The comprehensive approach to pelvic floor dysfunction with or without more complications should include the following that was mentioned in the blog: “Are Yoga Exercises Good for Pelvic Floor Dysfunction“:
- “Behavior modification which is always part of the solution list to all issues (your behavior about life changes how you do everything in life). It 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, and spicy foods! Take collagen, Vit. C, Vit. D, Omega 3, and 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 eye level.
- Postural Awareness: It is important to pay attention to the posture and catch yourself when not standing on both feet, slouching, or 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 pay attention to the feet and pelvis positioning.
- Sleeping habits: do not sleep on the stomach and if you are a stomach sleeper, get a body pillow to minimize that.”
The list below also includes some lifestyle modifications that are explored.
The Top Lifestyle Changes For Pelvic Floor Dysfunction?
In addition to the sleep positions, postural awareness, ergonomics, and nutrition mentioned above, the following are lifestyle factors to pay close attention to:
Maintaining a Healthy Weight
Excess weight is taxing on the whole body including the pelvis. Pelvic floor dysfunction is a result of pelvic instability which can lead to a myriad of issues some more neurological than others. Regardless of the symptoms associated with pelvic floor dysfunction, it is important to bring stability back to the pelvis so the treatments are long-lasting.
The best way to address the extra weight is to not make it a chore. Start by cutting the portion size first and avoid buying bad snacks. Have a visual board, sentence, or thought that allows you to focus on why you want to lose weight. Don’t make it difficult and have a peaceful approach toward weight loss instead of setting goals that are unrealistic for the time frame you set. A good weight coach is always a helpful guide and resource to consult with and I recommend Sarah Savino.
The only type of exercise I strongly recommend for all issues related to dysfunctional movements leading to instability (and yes pelvic floor dysfunction is related to instability of the body including the pelvis) is Developmental Kinesiology exercises such as Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization (DNS). These are how we all moved from helpless newborns to the running toddler stages of our lives. If we went from no power to a perfect running child without any weights, bands, or gyms then it only makes sense to go back to the same method that we are clearly designed to follow since no one taught us to do them, to begin with.
While oftentimes people associate constipation with diet, there is a specific muscle in the pelvis that when constricted, can lead to constipation. The constipated individual strains to defecate and the strain leads to even further tightness of the muscles, which then feeds into this vicious cycle. Constipation is directly influenced by poor posture so postural correction is key to avoiding constipation. Thankfully the DNS exercises mentioned help with whole-body muscular balance and are helpful with constipation.
Avoid Heavy Lifting
Heavy lifting is something we all should work toward but not to start with. All lifting, heavy or not, when violating the basic principles of movement as learned in the DNS style exercises, creates and complicates the issue. The basic principles of movement and lifting are listed below and I strongly suggest following @irvinespine on Instagram to understand them better.
- Neutral spine and pelvis
- Biological Breathing
- Hip hinging vs using the muscles of the back
- Stability in the knees when on the feet
Stress complicates everything and managing it is easier said than done. When it comes to health, I recommend consulting a good Certified Health Coach. If you have pelvic floor dysfunction and are not getting the results you want or wish to be evaluated for assessment and treatment of pelvic floor dysfunction, do not hesitate to contact me.