Let’s face it, pain sucks. Especially ongoing pain in an area that many people are uncomfortable talking about. As humans, we’re generally wired to avoid pain and to do whatever we can to make it go away when it does come along. After all, pain is like an alarm system - It’s supposed to protect our bodies and motivate us to fix whatever it is that’s causing the pain.
What happens though, if that alarm system gets too good at protecting us? If it gets so sensitive that it goes off just when you’re thinking about pain?
In Part 1 & 2 of this blog series, we talked about all the factors that affect pelvic pain and examples of DIMs (Danger in Me) and SIMs (Safety in Me), but what can we do about it?
1. Breathe Do you ever notice yourself holding your breath? Take 5 minutes out of your day to simply focus on your breathing. Your pelvic floor muscles actually move naturally with your breath. Calm your body and take time to notice what it feels like for your pelvic floor to open up, as well.
2. Open Up Your Pelvic Floor Pelvic floor opening exercises can help to decrease tension, increase awareness, and improve blood flow to/from the pelvic floor. Take advantage of the natural movement of the pelvic floor when you breathe and accentuate it with a pelvic floor opening exercise like the cat-cow:
Start on hands and knees, with hands shoulder-width and knees hip-width apart
Breathe in – drop belly button down towards the floor (cow)
Breathe out – arch back up towards the ceiling (cat)
Keep elbows straight throughout
Notice how your tailbone and pubic bone move away from each other slightly as you breathe in and drop your belly button down towards the floor, opening up your pelvic floor
3. Get Moving!
Physical activity has many benefits, including decreasing stress, releasing endorphins (i.e. your body’s own painkillers), decreasing inflammation, and improving sleep. It doesn’t need to be high intensity or structured, if that’s not your thing. Can you go for a 10-minute walk after dinner? Can you stretch your hands up towards the ceiling three times if you’ve been sitting for more than an hour?
4. Be Kind To Yourself.
Dealing with pelvic pain is not easy. Some days will be harder than others. Give yourself permission to do things a little bit differently than how you would’ve done it before your pelvic pain started. It doesn’t mean you’re giving up; it just means that this is how things are in the moment. If you’re really struggling emotionally or mentally, please do talk with your doctor about mental health support.
For support with understanding your pelvic pain, contact a Pelvic Health Physiotherapy team member today.
If you’d like to learn more about pelvic pain, check out this short book on why pelvic pain hurts and what you can do about it:
This 5-minute video is also a really great primer on persistent pain (not specific to pelvic pain but certainly applicable to it):