Yoga for Pelvic Pain
Have you ever been told you should do yoga for your pelvic pain? Maybe just wondering what are we actually talking about when we say pelvic pain?
Pelvic pain is a broad term, referring to pain in region of the vulva, vagina, bladder, testicles or scrotum. Pelvic pain can be continuous, unrelenting pain, often described as burning, sharp, deep, hot. Or the pain can only occur if the area is touched. Pelvic pain can also be described as only pain with sexual function. For women, suffering from pain with sexual function is mostly experienced when attempting penetration; for Men it is often experienced when achieving an erection. Both parties can unfortunately experience pain with orgasm. Other common reasons women and men experience pelvic pain can be associated with painful bladder filling or during urination and even pain with bowel function. The experience is different for everyone, sometimes the pain may be momentary and fleeting, and sometimes the pain may linger for hours after the initial experience. It’s important that no matter what your experience of pelvic pain, that you give it recognition and seek out an individual assessment with out physios in the Shire (Woolooware), Bondi Junction and Cammeray so they can determine what may be going on in your body.
As there are many differing reasons pelvic pain may arise within a person’s body, discussing the treatment is far beyond the scope of this blog. We do however know that most women and men that experience pelvic pain have a ‘dysfunctional’ pelvic floor muscle which is why our experienced women's health physios in the Shire (Woolooware), Bondi Junction and Cammeray see so many of these cases. The ‘dysfunction’ within the pelvic floor muscle will need to be uniquely assessed but for the purpose of this blog, as with a lot of patients we see, lets imagine the dysfunction of the pelvic floor muscle is that it is “tight” or in a state of spasm/cramp.
You may be wondering why or how does my pelvic floor muscle become tight?
A muscle contracts when the nerves tell it to, these nerves can be controlled by our conscious mind, for example when you reach your arm out to collect your coffee from your local barista. Nerves can also stimulate a muscle to contract on a subconscious level, such as raising your shoulders to your ears when you’re stressed or concentrating hard.
It’s often that the pelvic floor muscles have been stimulated subconsciously – for many differing reasons. It could be a contractile response of the muscle due an ongoing or previous organ pathology; do you suffer with heavy painful periods? Or had a history of Urinary Tract Infections’? Experienced anal fissures and cuts when opening your bowels? Sometimes it is an acute protective contraction that is initiated after abdominal surgery. Or maybe during your upbringing you were taught to associate sex with being ‘wrong’ so now your nerves have activated your pelvic floor muscle to protect the area.
When recommending yoga to help with pelvic pain, we are specifically talking about yin yoga. The difference between Yin Yoga and other Yoga practices (such as Vinyasa, Hatha or Bikram) is that it is a quiet contemplative practice. Yin yoga helps us to tap into the subconscious mechanics of our body, it is typically quite an introspective practice with emphasis on diaphragmatic breathing, relaxation and connection to your deep core systems.
The principles of Yin Yoga are to gently target the tissues in your body thorough prolonged stretching postures. The aim is to find a gentle “edge” of each stretch, learning to sit within a very small amount of discomfort and practicing letting go of your body and surrounding muscles to melt into the position over the duration of the hold. This type of practice helps to wind down the body’s subconscious protective instincts that cause muscles to tense up as defence mechanism against pain/deepness of each stretch. Once these skills are learnt they can be applied to regular conscious “letting go” of the pelvic floor, helping it to become less “tight” which is significantly helpful alongside pelvic pain rehabilitation.
Reach out to our team of women's and men's health physios in the Shire (Woolooware), Bondi Junction and Cammeray for guidance!