Do you ever stop for a moment and think, “Whoa. I’m really tense right now”? If I’m driving, I usually grip onto the steering wheel as though my life depended on it. While I’m typing, especially on a tight deadline, my back and shoulders feel are strained. Often, I don’t realize my my intense and rigid-as-a-diving-board posture until my back aches or my hand suddenly cramps up. I’m lost in a flurry of thoughts about traffic, work, groceries, and whether or not I pre-recorded the season finale of Grey’s Anatomy (yes, that show is still running).
When we’re having stressful thoughts, it can manifest physically. And without really thinking about it, we’re putting tension and pressure on our bod. If we’re packing too much pressure on our pelvic floors or abdomen, it can cause conditions like pelvic organ prolapse (POP) or diastasis recti. But don’t fret — we put together a guide on how to let go of that tension.
Intentional breathing is one of the best things we can do for our bodies. Lindsey Vestal, our pelvic floor guru, says that it’s the number one way we can offload pressure from our beloved pelvic floors. If we’re constantly in a state of fight-or-flight or breathing shallowly from our chests, we’re creating lots of tension.
Our diaphragm, which plays an important role in breathing, is part of the deep core muscles that help us stabilize and regulate pressure in our body. Aaaand...our pelvic floors are a member of our deep core muscle family! When the deep core muscles work together via our breathing, we can move more fluidly and not so much like pain-ridden robots. Not to mention, taking time to breathe can clear our busy inner dialogues and destress us from, you know, life stuff.
Inhale and Exhale Tips
- Lindsey’s How-To: Put your hands on your belly, a few inches lower from your belly button. Keep your fingers firmly in this spot. Take an inhale, and then exhale and "SHHH" loudly as if you are telling someone in a crowded library to be quiet. This can be done wherever, whenever. Ahhhh...
- Download HeadSpace: This amazing app that guides you through meditation and breathing daily. The app offers hundreds of themed sessions on everything from stress to sleep and there are bite-sized meditations for busy schedules. I love it. It’s improved my life quite drastically. Trust the hype.
- Try Acupuncture: Acupuncture is all about removing "blockages of Qi" (known in Western terms as muscle, blood, fluid, or nerve blockage). If you’re dealing pelvic floor pain/disorder, this ancient and recent-supported remedy can remove any blocks or stasis that impacts the nervous, urogenital, gynecological, and digestive systems. If you’re on a budget, see if community acupuncture is available in your area. Some insurance companies cover the cost.
Good Alignment and Not Over Doing It
Like breathing, good body alignment and proper posture takes so much pressure off of our pelvic floors. Do you ever try to get 15 heavy grocery bags inside your home all at once? Same. Sure, we might think we’re being “efficient” by schlepping everything all at once. But in reality, our pelvic floors (and shoulder, back, arms, the list goes on…) suffer from the overload because we’re using bad posture. Lindsey adds that wearing heels or uncomfortable shoes often can offset our pelvic floors too. “When you’re wearing heels, it pitches the body forward, which isn’t our natural state.”
- Don’t Over Do It: Take multiple trips (or get someone to help) when you’re carrying heavy loads/bags. Plus, you’ll avoid any potential injuries.
- Franklin Balls: Release muscles from the outside with the help of these amazing, multi-functional Franklin balls. Place them between your spine and the back of your chair for better posture while sitting (don't forget to breathe from your diaphragm while you're at it!). You can also use it to roll out your hips, back, or under your feet (feels soooo good!) to loosen up that tension.
- Wear Comfortable Shoes: Set your pelvic floor up for a better resting tone. When you're wearing heels, it pitches your body forward. If you’re on your feet often, find a pair of comfy shoes or sandals.
Don’t Hover Over Porcelain Throne: I know, it seems logical to hover or squat over a toilet (especially one in a public restroom, but the truth that it’s not good for your pelvic floor. While peeing or pooping, our pelvic floor should be relaxed.
Making these little adjustments and remembering to breathe can have a whole lotta impact on your pelvic floor health and bodies overall. Ahhh...say goodbye pent up tension, stressful thoughts, and bad posture.
*~How do you release pressure?~*