I got my period last night! This means two things:
1) That things feeling tighter isn’t a backslide, and there’s a reason and common denominator behind this (I got a period last time my pelvic floor got tighter and abdominal issues reared up, too).
2) That there really isn’t a backslide, because it’s been less tight and painful, with lesser abdominal issues than last time I had a period. So this is actually real progress.
My abdomen got super crampy in the car this morning. I adjusted my posture, and shortly thereafter, it got WAY better. Direct correlation? I’ve been watching it today, not tucking my tailbone, especially when I sit, and it hasn’t been bad.
I thought this morning of this bit I heard on the The Liberated Body podcast with Judith Hanson Lasater:
“When you stand with a normal lumbar curve, the viscera or organs. Jean Pierre Barral has a theory about a visceral column and spinal column and they support one another. When we tuck the tailbone the organs fall down onto the prostate, the bladder, and the uterus which I think contributes to prolapse for women, and I have a theory that it affects prostate issues as well.”
Is that part of the connection between my pelvic floor and abdomen, and why my abdomen gets upset when I have a period and am tucking my tailbone? I hadn’t thought of that before, but it definitely makes sense.
I was reading this and thinking about how tight my pelvic floor muscles are. Katy says, “The action of the pelvic floor muscle, like every muscle, is position and load-dependent. If this muscle group was “designed to be in constant contraction” then when we laid down it would be generating the same force with a smaller load, which should not be happening in muscle.” Mine are as tight lying down as they are when I stand, I think. Their default position is contraction.
I’ve been getting better at being mindful of this lately. I think of it many times a day, and I’m getting better at keeping them relaxed for longer periods of time when I do think of it. It used to last about ten second before I paid the slightest bit of attention to anything else, and then they’d default to their “tight and lifted” state.
So I’m improving that end of it quite a lot. I still need to do more reading on how to engage and strengthen my glutes appropriately so they provide the proper counter-balance to my pelvic floor. Once I get the sitting worked out a little, that will probably be my next focus. More squatting, it appears.
I’ve been realizing how often I sit on my sacrum, and how much that must be contributing to my pelvic floor issues.
It’s hard to correct. All my “curled up in bed/on the couch” positions involve rounding my sacrum such that it’s bearing weight, and almost certainly stressing all the pelvic floor muscles that attach to my coccyx. I rarely sit on my sitz bones like I should be. I’m trying; it’s hard to remember, and I must be overcompensating because it often makes my lower back hurt. It’s especially hard in the car where, even with the towel I now have in the driver’s seat to compensate, I’m still fighting the backwards tilt of the bucket seat.
So, I’m trying to figure out how to sit well, and going to try a head pillow to see if that makes it come more easily for me.
Helpful things I’ve found so far:
The Basics of Sitting, Part One (other parts linked at the bottom)
Ramblings from my pelvis
I’m going to try to sit a lot less, but since I only have so much control over that right now (and especially in the car), I’m also going to be working on sitting better.
About a five-minute video with biomechanist Katy Bowman about the plevic floor:
Pelvic Floor Demystified
So perhaps it is time for more glute work in my world.
1. Dilator for 30 minutes daily, two 30-minute sessions if I can find the time
2. Inner thigh stretches
3. Outer thing stretches
5. Myofascial self-release (5 minutes per spot)
6. Therawand on trigger points (5 minutes per spot)
7. Squatting regularly throughout the day to release the pelvic floor
This is actually a lot to try to fit into a day, and I am not generally successful in it. It feels really overwhelming. My work schedule is such that I’m away from home for over ten hours a day, and sometimes I want to have dinner with a friend, or a date, after work. Those are things that also keep me healthy in other ways than the specific ones I am addressing with PT and my pelvic floor, and I’m definitely not going to do my healing well without the support of the people I love, so those need to be priorities too. How do I fit this all in?
I’m on my myofascial ball right now, so at least that’s something. More time on the floor.
Things I haven’t been assigned but want to do for myself:
1. Daily yoga in the morning for 10-15 minutes
2. Daily mediatation (and this is, in one part, to change my relationship with my body and to increase my capacity for emotional self-regulation).
3. Cooking more at home.
4. Barefoot time outside in the woods to help with my alignment and body use.
5. The two alignment classes I have taken on as part of the “getting myself healthy” project.
6. Blogging, because clearly I have lots of things that I need to get out.
It’s no wonder I feel overwhelmed. I’d have to keep a pretty tight schedule to do all of these things. How do I work all of this?
Written about a month ago
I’m four sessions into PT. Within a session or two, I started really locating the source of my issues; I think I had been noticing less specifically where the pain was occurring and having some referred pain. I feel like I have a much better sense of what the muscular problems are and where.
I am responding well to PT. The muscles are definitely relaxing more. I use dilators and a Therawand at home, have thigh stretches, do some light myofascial work on my stomach, and am supposed to squat several times a day to help relax my pelvic floor (I typically forget this but finally set phone reminders for myself four times a day, which should help significantly). My muscles are definitely less reactive, I’ve found better ways to adjust when I need to, and everything hurts less when it does get tight.
The session I had yesterday, she worked on some of the areas with surface issues (vs the muscular problems). Apparently the tissue underneath those super sensitive raw areas is really thick. She held several spots, which was uncomfortable, but then they released. It’s the first time I think I’ve really felt like this might actually resolve the entire issue in the long run, including all the surface irritation. I’m pretty amazed; I didn’t know that could happen.
I’ve also discovered Katy Bowman, thanks to a friend. She’s a biomechanist who talks a lot about the pelvic floor, among other things (apparently 80% of women have pelvic floor issues at some point during their lives. 80%). I’m working on changing my shoes and my overall movement patterns to support health in my pelvic floor and my whole body. Its also given me an avenue to see how this might have developed, without any underlying emotional trauma, and to help support my continued healing.
All of this is pricey, and my insurance doesn’t cover it. But I feel like this is a good use of some of the savings I have. I’m happy about my progress, and pretty excited about maybe finally getting my nether regions to a truly healthy state.