Can deep breathing help pelvic pain?

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Can deep breathing help pelvic pain?

May 8, 2020

Most of us probably heard of the diaphragm that lives under the lungs and helps us breath right? But have you heard of the pelvic diaphragm ? The 2nd layer of the pelvic floor muscles is referred to as the pelvic diaphragm. Both these structures are anatomically positioned to be parallel to each other .

Now let me talk a little bit about pelvic pain. Pelvic pain can be due to many reasons. Irrespective of the underlying pathology the common finding as a response to pathology is a tight or shortened pelvic floor. When PFM (pelvic floor muscles ) are tight the functions of the pelvic floor are hampered so the person may have complaints of

  • constipation ( can include men )
  • difficulty with initiating urination
  • pain with intercourse

Now let’s connect breathing and pelvic pain ! Yes deep breathing can help pelvic pain and here’s what happens when you take a diaphragmatic ( deep belly breath ) breath , the abdominal diaphragm contracts and pelvic diaphragm relaxes .The two diaphragms are positioned in such a manner that when doing deep breathing the abdominal diaphragm contracts and causes the abdominal contents ( intestine and stomach) to descend into the pelvis and in turn will cause the pelvic diaphragm/ the muscles in the pelvis to lengthen/ relax .The opposite happens when we exhale , the diaphragm relaxes and the abdominal organs move up and away from the pelvic floor and the pelvic floor contracts.

Repeating this as an exercise for 5 to 10 minutes for about 1-2 x /day is a good start to start learning to relax the pelvic floor. This is excellent to relax your mind as well, prior to mediation or in conjunction with mediation .

In my experience I see people who carry their stress and tension in two places. In their shoulder ( upper trapezius muscles) and in the pelvic floor! Yes ! you read that right ! in the Pelvic floor !. This is my finding in my practice ,when I teach patients to correct their posture and relax their shoulders this helps with the pelvic pain as well over time.

So how is this Diaphragmatic breathing done ?

  • Start by laying down ( with knees bent ) or sitting down comfortably .
  • Place one hand on the chest .
  • Place the 2nd hand on the abdomen around the belly button .
  • Take a nice deep breath in through your nose, your hand on the chest should not feel much movement but the hand on your belly should rise up slightly .
  • Do not forcefully push your belly out .
  • Gently breath out through pursed lips.
  • Wait for about 1 min and repeat slowly for about 5 min.

Some final thoughts This kind of breathing might feel awkward if you are used to shallow breathing using the upper chest , it will take some time to retraining .

This is also a good exercise for people with COPD ( chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases) and can help lung function .If you experience lightheadedness , discontinue the deep breathing consult your PT to be trained to do the exercises appropriately .