Most of us have been unconsciously clutching the pelvic floor so consistently, and for so long, that we’re not even aware we’re stuck in an unnaturally frozen and weakened state.
As a culture, the only time we talk about the pelvic floor is when the topic turns to sex or pregnancy. This is a travesty, because this powerful area of our body offers us a wealth of strength, sensation, information, connection, and vitality that extends far beyond sex.
Not only do we rarely discuss all that the pelvic floor offers us, we don’t even have a vocabulary to discuss what happens when things are not right. We talk openly about injuries or pain that we sustain in other parts of the body, but most people shy away from an open discourse when something goes wrong “down there.”
It’s almost like we’re embarrassed about this part of our body and the problems that arise when it isn’t healthy. But the pelvic floor impacts so many important bodily functions. Ignoring it might manifest into problems such as incontinence, pain during sex, inability to achieve orgasm, or more general pain that is usually the result of tightness. It can also present itself as tight hamstrings, a weak deep core and butt, a hernia, lower back pain, impotence, or premature ejaculation.
Most of us tend to clutch our pelvic floor. Just like a clenched fist cannot grasp, a too-tight pelvic floor is unable to support the proper positioning and optimal function of the pelvic organs, bones, and vertebrae.
Over-stressing, over-training, overdoing, and sexual trauma can result in pelvic floor issues. So can sitting too much, which puts most of us in danger. If we were to counteract all of the time we spend sitting by moving, unwinding, meditating, and relaxing, our pelvic floor could remain healthy despite all of the time spent sitting.
When we clutch our pelvic floor, its hammock-like base pulls in and up like a rosebud. While we do want the ability to clutch this area sometimes, it’s important that it also has the ability and space to expand and bloom like a flower as well. Some people are in such a subconscious habit of clutching that they never allow this expansion to happen.
It’s a lot like when you clench your jaw too tightly—eventually, it begins to feel as if it’s almost locked and glued in a clenched position. This is uncomfortable at best, painful at worst, and not how the jaw was meant to function. Same with the pelvic floor—and they are deeply intertwined. The problem is, clutching is much easier to identify in the jaw than it is the pelvic floor because many of us are so disconnected from our pelvis.
This results in a hypertonic state, which means the pelvic floor becomes numb and weak, and loses its nerve connection. With tightness and a lack of connection also comes rigidity weakness, disconnection, and pain. The pain is a result of your body desperately trying to communicate with you that a particular area needs some attention, space, movement, or change.
While pain presents for this reason in all areas of the body, what makes the pelvic floor unique is that we’re often not even aware of the pain. Most of us have been unconsciously clutching the pelvic floor so consistently, and for so long, that we’re not even aware we’re stuck in an unnaturally frozen and weakened state. We are totally unaware of what comfort, relaxation, flexibility, and expansion even feel like in this area of the body.
Because the pelvis is an area of such connectivity, when you build resiliency in your pelvis by learning how to contract and relax your pelvic floor, you also release your hamstrings, inner thighs, sacrum, lower back, and hip flexors, while also helping reawaken your deepest foundational core muscles.
Once you learn to isolate the muscles of your pelvic floor in order to activate and relax them, you have the power to control how you deal with stress. When you clutch, you are indicating to your body and brain that you are stressed, compressed, and coiling in. When you relax your pelvic floor muscles, the rest of your body believes it and follows suit.
The following practice will empower you to understand how your body deals with stress, and where and how you hold stress. It will help you feel relaxed, calm, and strong. It will also help create more fluidity and flexibility in your hips and pelvis, and connect you to the base of your core.
- Close your eyes and visualize the muscles at the base of your core, between your sitz bones, that you would use to cut your pee off midstream. Without using your tush or abs, contract your pelvic floor, pull it up and into your body, and hold it. You should feel a tightening around your vagina.
- Contrast this move by letting go of the muscles, feeling space between your sitz bones. Feel the base of your core relax, and then relax and expand a little more from there until you experience a complete surrender of holding. You will feel your belly relax, your shoulders melt, and your jaw and head release. Do this in a series of 6 to 8 repetitions, anytime and anywhere. It might be while you are in the car, waiting in line, or even right before you meditate or do a workout to ignite your superpower.
At first, you will have to focus on maintaining this connection by reminding yourself to release over and over again. But the more you do it, the easier it gets, because you are building a brain-body, neuromuscular connection. Once you’ve made that connection and experienced the sensation and benefits of intentionally releasing the pelvic floor, it becomes easier and easier to do.
Adapted from the book The Power Source: The Hidden Key to Ignite your Core, Empower your Body, Release Stress, and Realign your Life by Lauren Roxburgh. Copyright © 2019 by Lauren Roxburgh. Reprinted with permission of Grand Central Publishing. All rights reserved.