Recently I was on a flight to Denver. After a morning of back to back patient care, rushing home to finish some last minute packing, and then grabbing an uber ( who took a wrong turn resulting in a 35 minute drive to the Kansas City airport versus the 20 minutes I had factored in). I found myself between two strangers on the plane with my eyes closed , unable to let go of the full body muscle tension that had been building since my alarm went off at 5:30 in the morning.
Eventually, I felt my arms start to relax at my sides with my hands eventually resting on my stomach, feeling the rise and fall of my breath. Next, my neck relaxed into the headrest with subsequent shoulder relaxation to follow. I found myself starting to drift into sleep and was quickly awoken by my inner thigh muscles finally letting go and allowing my legs to rest open another half inch away from each other.
It was at this moment that I realized the absolute havoc daily stressors can have on our bodies. I speak to my patients on a daily basis about the way stress and anxiety can manifest in our bodies, and more specifically in our pelvic floor muscles. Similar to other areas in the body that are more visible to the naked eye, our pelvic floor muscles like to harbor deep emotional stress and past traumas. Unfortunately, our pelvic floor muscles are not visible externally and therefore there tends to be a mental barrier in connecting with these muscles. Pelvic floor tension can lead to a multitude of dysfunction including but not limited to: pain with sex, urinary urgency and frequency, urinary incontinence, and pelvic pain. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, please consult with a pelvic health therapist.
Below are some strategies to help aid in relaxation and become more connected with the mind and body:
- Deep diaphragmatic breathing: imagine filling up a beach ball within your abdomen as you inhale, allowing your diaphragm to drop down. Try inhaling for 5 seconds, hold at the top of that inhale for 2 seconds, and exhale for 7 seconds ( making the exhale longer).
- Relax your face, mouth and jaw. Check in with yourself periodically throughout the day, especially in times of stress and make sure you aren’t holding tension through these areas, as they tend to hold a lot of stress throughout the day and can contribute to tension headaches.
- Gentle yoga flow with breath, some of my favorite poses include: happy baby, child’s pose, and cat/ camel. Consult with a pelvic health PT for modifications tailored to you!
- Find a mental health therapist. Talking to someone and finding strategies to deal with anxious thoughts can be life changing. Make your health a priority.
We offer a free 15 minute phone consultation with one of our PT specialists to answer questions and see how integrative physical therapy can be beneficial for you. We work to bring an integrative, whole person approach to our practice and will work with your on all the lifestyle factors that can help you reach your wellness goals and reduce your stress and pain.
— Stacey Massey, DPT