Relieving Pelvic Pain with Yoga
Pelvic pain affects 1 in 3 women in Canada.
Often, those who are experiencing pain feel more alone than the statistics reveal because pelvic pain is not as readily spoken about as other parts of the body, like the back or hip. Pelvic pain can disrupt bowel, bladder, digestive, and sexual function.
Women who experience pelvic pain often have at least one other systemic concern (called comorbidities). For example, a woman with interstitial cystitis might feel her pain getting worse if she is constipated or flaring during certain times in her menstrual cycle. (Co-morbidities of pelvic floor dysfunction are not always painful.)
Let’s categorize what you or your loved one might be experiencing.
• Interstitial cystitis (also referred to as painful bladder syndrome or bladder pain syndrome)
• Urinary urgency
• Urinary frequency
• Urinary incontinence
• Urinary hesitancy
• Irritable Bowel Syndrome
• Fecal (or gas) incontinence
• Abdominal pain
• Pudendal neuralgia
• Back pain
• Hip pain
• Sacroiliac joint pain
• Pelvic floor muscle spasm aka overactivity aka levator ani syndrome
• Vulvodynia (also referred to as vulvar pain)
• Dysmenorrhea (painful periods)
How is it treated?
At Health Over All we take a holistic and team based approach to healing. We will work with you to be able to create a treatment plan that might include osteopathic care with the use of Mercier Therapy, medication, acupuncture, therapeutic exercise, dietary tips, yoga, and mindfulness.
If you and your provider suspect diet might play a role in your symptoms, being properly hydrated, increasing fiber intake and avoiding irritants may provide relief. You might also have pelvic floor muscle tightness or incoordination that might be making bowel movements sluggish, incomplete, or painful. Some techniques to try while defecating include:
• elevating your feet on a Squatty Potty (or stool),
• working with the pelvic floor muscles (lengthen or strengthen), and
• abdominal massage.
Movement that feels safe in your body is critical to feeling like your best self. This is why so many people love using yoga as an adjunct treatment modality to decrease pain and increase function. Yoga offers the opportunity for slow, mindful movements with breath work and inner reflection. Relaxing, developing awareness, and integrating breath into your movement increases flexibility of the body and the mind. Yoga helps control the release of compounds in your body: serotonin (the feel-good neurotransmitter) and cortisol (the stress hormone). The majority of serotonin, the feel good neurotransmitter, is produced in the gut. Strengthening the parasympathetic nervous system response via pranayama, meditation, and gentle movement can be helpful in the balance of cortisol and serotonin.
Conscious breathwork, or pranayama is another non-invasive tool to decrease pain and increase confidence that you have control over the pain by targeting the nervous system.
How Is Yoga Beneficial?
Lengthens restricted tissue
Yoga provides the opportunity to provide myofascial release to the organs and restricted myofascial planes (e.g. targeting the superficial back line with downward facing dog).
Pranayama (breath work supports the biomechanics relationship between the pelvic floor and the diaphragm)
When we inhale, the diaphragm and pelvic floor muscles descend towards the feet. We can use the breath to enhance this relationship and improve coordination. A much better alternative to being told “you just need to relax!”
Addresses the neuroscience of pain
We can use yoga to change pain from being the primary expected response to movement. Create a new movement vocabulary that is connected with the breath and supported by the nervous system. We can utilize the parasympathetic nervous system to override the sympathetic nervous system’s fight-or-flight response.
Improves comorbidities associated with pelvic pain
Yoga has proven to be beneficial for hip pain, back pain, fibromyalgia, anxiety, depression, irritable bowel syndrome, urinary incontinence, and constipation.
Enhances the mind-body connection
By improving self-awareness, clients can often manage flareups with greater confidence and success.
After receiving pelvic specific treatment like the gynovisceral manipulation of Mercier Therapy, using movement in the newly gained range of motion is key! We have to teach the body that it is safe to move and yoga can augment the treatment received.
If you have any questions or concerns about the pelvic pain you are experiencing give us a call at 905-892-1318 to book an appointment with me!
You deserve to live your best life each and every day!
– Nathan Lambert, DOMP