Hypertonic Pelvic Floor: Exercises and Treatment
What is hypertonic pelvic floor?
“Hypertonic Pelvic Floor” is also sometimes called “Non-Relaxing Pelvic Floor Dysfunction.” A hypertonic pelvic floor is diagnosed when a person has excessive tension in the pelvic muscles, and the muscles can't/won't "let go." This condition can cause severe pain, problems with voiding, sexual difficulties, and significant mental distress. The good news is: there are things you can do to help. Keep reading to learn more!
What causes hypertonic pelvic floor?
There are many things that can contribute to pelvic floor hypertonicity including a history of injuries or surgery in the pelvic region, recurrent bladder infections and/or yeast infections, chronic low back pain, trauma (i.e. sexual trauma), or chronic underlying stress.
Do you have pelvic floor hypertonicity?
Awareness is the first step! If you've been diagnosed with hypertonic pelvic floor muscles, or if you experience any of the following, then you might have a non-relaxing pelvic floor.
Check-in with the following bullet points. Do you have difficulty:
- Releasing/unclenching your belly or butt muscles?
- Relaxing your pelvic floor muscles after a Kegel contraction?
- Breathing deeply into your ribs, belly, or low back?
- With constipation?
- With starting or stopping the flow of urine?
- With urinary urgency or frequency?
- With sex (i.e. is sex painful, or do you have trouble reaching orgasm)?
- With tampon insertion, if you menstruate?
- Do Kegel exercises and/or core strengthening exercises make your symptoms feel worse?
If you answered "yes" to any of the above, then you *might* have pelvic floor hypertonicity.
For an official diagnosis, it's important to be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider, such as a pelvic floor physical therapist. But this self-check-in is a great first step to improve awareness!
Can hypertonic pelvic floor be cured?
Yes! Relief for non-relaxing pelvic floor dysfunction is absolutely possible, and many people I've worked with through my work as a physical therapist and in my online programs have experienced complete relief.
How do you release hypertonic pelvic floor?
Physical Therapists and Occupational Therapists who've been specifically trained to treat the pelvic floor are experts at providing therapeutic exercises and manual therapy (hands-on) treatments.
A psychologist or mental health counselor is a great resource for helping you learn how to manage the mental strain that goes along with pelvic health challenges. If you have a history of trauma or abuse, look for a trauma-informed therapist.
Acupuncture and/or bodywork is a great way to relieve the physical and emotional stress that contributes to excessive pelvic tension. Meditation is also a helpful practice, along with tools such as EFT (tapping) for pelvic health.
Dilators and/or Wands
This article from my blog archives offers step-by-step instructions (including a video) for how to use dilators and/or pelvic wands to release excessive pelvic floor tension.
You (yes, YOU) have the power to take matters into your own hands, at home, with gentle stretching, breathing, and self-massage practices like the video below!
This 25-minute routine is designed for people with a hypertonic pelvic floor (in other words, non-relaxing pelvic floor muscles)... But honestly, it’s great for anyone. If you have stress in your life and find yourself clenching your belly, butt, and/or anus, then you'll love it too — even if you don't have an official diagnosis of "hypertonicity" or pelvic tension.
You might also like THIS POST from my blog archives: The SECRET to pelvic floor relief.
How long does it take to fix hypertonic pelvic floor?
This varies from person to person. Some people will experience relief after just a few stretching sessions, whereas others might require several months (or even a year or more) of physical therapy treatment along with work on their own, at home. Factors that need to be taken into consideration include:
- The severity of the condition
- How long it has been going on
- Other stressors and issues in your life that might make it more challenging for your body to relax and/or to be consistent with your treatment regimen
Ultimately, the key to successful treatment is "neural adaptation," which means that the system itself (i.e. the pelvic floor within the system it typically functions in) gets better at the task of learning how to relax and let go.
One of the most important things that can help with neural adaptation is something that YOU can do, in your own mind! It's to *let go* of mental pressure, expectations, and timelines for healing. Instead of "forcing" or pressuring yourself to relax, SOFTEN into the journey of healing.
Try the tips and tools above, and know that there is hope. There is help!
Get a free trial of my Overcome Pelvic Pain for Women program here (great for pelvic floor hypertonicity).
Does your pelvic floor need help?
Many women think they just need live with the changes they’re experiencing
“down there,” but this is NOT the case. Take the short quiz to find out if you have issues that can be solved naturally.