You might be saying to yourself, "seriously, that is a thing to do!?" or, "ummmmmm, how would I even go about doing that?"
If so, keep reading ; )
When I take on a new postnatal client, they answer almost 40 questions regarding incontinence, heaviness in their pelvis, voiding urine and feces, etc. All of these answers give me a good idea as to whether their pelvic floor (PF) muscles are hypertonic (over-active) or hypotonic (under-active). The best way to get a true answer, however, is to see a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist for an internal assessment. Yes, I talk about PF physio a lot, I PREACH PF physiotherapy because it is such an important tool in your pre and postnatal journey.
Whether it is from the answers in my assessment, or a client has already seen a PF physiotherapist, a hypertonic PF needs to be trained to relax or "let go". Working on "releasing" or relaxing these muscles may be helpful to alleviate symptoms you may be experiencing.
There are a couple ways you can go about relaxing these muscles. When I teach a client with a hypertonic pelvic floor the core breath, I do not cue for activation of these muscles. I only cue relaxation in coordination with their breath. Believe it or not, just working on coordination of your breathing can make a HUGE difference! So, how do you relax these muscles, you may ask? Let me tell you!
A big cue I use is one I took away from a Core Confidence Course I took and it is to "blossom your vulva". As you take a deep breath in, I want you to imagine your vagina is a flower that you are trying to blossom. Those pelvic bones should feel like they are separating slightly as you relax.
This is a great cue to learn, and seeing a PF physio can help you truly feel what relaxation can feel like sometimes. To be honest, I didn't truly "feel" it until I saw a physio, personally. My brain just couldn't wrap itself around the blossoming concept until I had internal feedback.
Another way to relax these muscles is to actually massage/release them. This involve the use of other tools such as a lacrosse ball or small Pilates ball (pictured below).
A lacrosse ball (green) is a very firm ball, that may be too much for some individuals in the pelvic floor area, and that's ok! That is not the only way to release these muscles. I also get my clients to use a small inflatable ball that can be DEflated half way (blue ball above, or a kids ball that can be deflated).
I cue my clients to sit on either ball they may be using. For a lacrosse ball, it can target specific areas more than the Pilates ball. The lacrosse ball is placed in between your SITS bones (boney part you can feel when sitting on a hard surface) and your vagina. Be sure to stay away from your tailbone! Once sitting on this ball, do not wiggle back and forth, but allow your body to relax AROUND the ball *easier said that done!* You can remove pressure and move the ball forwards or backwards if needed, placing your weight back onto it to relax around the ball again.
A Pilates ball would be placed over the entire vaginal/pelvic area between you and the chair. When there, I also cue clients to relax into or around the ball. You can adjust your position forwards or backwards in order to specify where more pressure may be put (either anteriorly, vaginal area, or posteriorly, are around your anus).
With either one of these releases, ensure you are RELAXING and BREATHING into the release. The goal is to relax the muscles so if you are tense anywhere else in your body, you will not be fully relaxing ; )
Please do not hesitate to send me a message with any questions you may have!!