I am lucky to work closely with a Pelvic Floor Physio here in Whitehorse, Yukon who addresses the whole person and the full body when exploring the causes of pelvic floor problems. Just as any other muscle can fall into a pattern of not functioning well (Sensory Motor Amnesia), the pelvic floor is affected by trauma (such as labour and delivery), overuse and habituated contraction of the belly muscles such as too much core work, tailbone tucking, reverse and restricted breathing patterns and a lifestyle with too much stress and fatigue.
Pelvic Floor problems as part of a bigger pattern
As Somatic Educators and Yoga Therapists we approach the pelvic floor as part of 3 larger Reflex Patterns known as the Startle (Red) Reflex, Green Light Reflex and Trauma Reflex. The muscles of the pelvic floor are strongly related to the flexor chain of muscles which draw towards midline, moving the limbs inward and flexing the body forward. The Startle Reflex action resembles the action of a morning glory flower, a common flower species that closes at night and reopens each morning, hence its name.
The act of the petals closing is to protect its against nocturnal insects and it helps retain moisture. When the sun rises, the flower petals open to display its beauty once again.
Green Light Reflex involves the muscles that run along the spine, the external rotators and bum muscles, such as the glutes, and the muscles on the back of the legs (hamstrings). These muscles can get stuck tight and inhibit the good function of our Red Light or front body muscles, affecting the pelvic floor and mobility of the pelvis.
Trauma Reflex affects the side waist and trunk muscles such as the external and internal intercostals, lateral obliques, glute muscles and can pull and tug causing imbalance of the pelvis and pelvic floor.
Pelvic floor dysfunction is NOT a normal course of aging. Remember to consider your pelvic floor problems to be part of a bigger pattern.
As we experience stress, tension, develop poor movement patterns and ways of being we notice changes in our pelvic floor function.
Incontinence, for example can arise from a hypertonic (overly tight pelvic floor) and a hypotonic (loose pelvic floor).
Three things you should know about pelvic floor dysfunction:
- Pelvic Floor dysfunction is not a normal course of aging.
- Pelvic Floor dysfunction occurs in both men and women.
- One does not have to have given birth to have symptoms of dysfunction.
SomaYoga & Somatics are great for regaining elasticity and control over the pelvic floor. You can get started with the Arch and Flatten movement available for free on our YouTube Channel. Remember to consider your pelvic floor as part of a bigger pattern.
Stay tuned for next week’s post to help you attune and get real with your pelvic floor.