Breathing for Better Pelvic Health
If you struggle with low back pain, leaking (with sneezing/coughing or exercising), constipation, pain in your pelvic floor, painful sex, or difficulty enjoying sex, your breathing could be to blame! Understanding how our diaphragm and pelvic floor are supposed to work together are the key to breathing for better pelvic health – and back health, too!. As we take a breath in, the pelvic floor is supposed to slightly relax and descend, but when these normal mechanics are out of balance, it can contribute to the problems listed above.
Take a picture of yourself from the side, where are you hips in relation to your rib cage? Proper posture allows us to maximize breathing efficiency–we need to give our diaphragm the best chance of moving properly. Your rib cage should be stacked over pelvis, without excessive flaring of ribs or tilting of pelvis.
Put a hand on your upper chest and belly, take a big breath in. Where do you feel the most movement, and what moves first? Now put your hands on the lower sides of your rib cage, and take another big breath in–do you feel any movement? Now tune in to your pelvic floor, take one more big breath in. Do you feel any movement?
One of the most common breathing mistakes is when you only breathe into your upper chest. With this, the chest and neck have a tendency to feel tight and painful. Similarly, when people take a “belly breath,” they only expand forward (pushing belly out into abs), when the lower ribs/belly area should expand in a 360 degree direction. Lastly, we tend to see paradoxical breathing (ribs up and out as belly sucks in).
If we aren’t breathing properly, this may cause the lower back to be tight and painful, and the pelvic floor isn’t able to relax properly.
What do we do?
Wall Posture Drill
Stand up against a wall, with your hips, and heels touching the wall. Try to gently draw your shoulders back against the wall, and tuck your chin to get your head touching. Make sure your rib cage doesn’t flare up and out, and when you tuck your chin back, your eyes should remain forward. If you find yourself looking up at the ceiling, your neck has extended, so just try to tuck as close to the wall as you can.
What feels tight? What feels weak? Spend more time mobilizing and/or strengthening the problem areas
- 90/90 breathing
- Practice lateral & back rib expansion
Addressing these issues will help with pelvic floor problems and lower back pain, but it’s not necessarily the entire solution for you. Contact us for an in person or online assessment to address the issues that have been plaguing you and to learn how to optimize your breathing to help improve your performance and prevent future issues!
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