We have noticed in recent years, that some people have become quite worried and concerned about doing pelvic floor exercises for fear that their muscles are too tight. There has certainly been a welcome increase in awareness that muscles can be tight and tense: if muscles are tight they need to be exercised differently than those whose muscles are simply weak. So what are broader issues that might leave you prone to a tight pelvic floor? Note these are not symptoms, but more reasons why the pelvic floor might be tight.
There are 4 main broader issues that might lead to the pelvic floor not relaxing:
- A traumatic past experience
- Tendency to anxiety or a diagnosed anxiety disorder
- An ongoing chronic low back or pelvic pain issue
A Traumatic Experience
If you have experienced something traumatic in the pelvic region of your body, there is now more and more evidence that your pelvic floor muscles may tend towards tension and tightness.
There is a wide understanding amongst Pelvic Health Physiotherapists that muscles can become very guarded, tense and tight in an effort to protect from further trauma.
The trauma could be anything from sexual trauma, through childbirth trauma to a trauma associated with an examination. A tight pelvic floor may affect both men and women. It may of course affect those identifying as non-binary or transgender.
But if you have experienced any trauma associated with the pelvic floor, don’t be afraid to discuss this with us. All consultations are carried out in a manner that will absolutely avoid re-igniting a bad experience.
Tendency to Anxiety
We know that those who have anxiety disorders or who have a tendency to anxiety in life, often hold tension in muscles throughout the body. Most people know if stress goes straight to their muscles: they probably seek massage regularly or at least feel the need for it! They may be prone to muscle tension and soreness just from little tasks. They may feel the need to stretch out and try and release muscle tension frequently.
The pelvic floor is just another group of muscles in the body that we can switch on and ideally switch off. These little muscles should be working on and off in the background all day. In response to stress and anxiety, they may be working too much all day and fail to relax.
The trouble is that we can’t see those muscles: they are inside the pelvis. But, if you are very prone to anxiety-induced muscle tension and you are experiencing problems with the pelvic floor, a tight pelvic floor may be part of the problem.
If you have hypermobile joints you will know that muscles around your joints tend to work harder than they should to support the looser joints. These muscles then become frequently tense. Muscles generally become sore and painful and often need massaging out.
The pelvic floor can likewise become tight in an effort to support the lax joints of the pelvis. If you have extra mobile joints and experience pelvic floor problems, it may be worth finding out if your pelvic floor is tight.
Other Musculoskeletal Issues
If you have chronic low back pain that causes weakness down your leg or legs or around the pelvis, the pelvic floor may work hard to compensate and become tight. Likewise, chronic hip pain or dysfunction might have the same tensioning effect on the pelvic floor.
If you have problems in the pelvic floor region relating to bladder, bowel, pain or sexual activity for example, and suspect your pelvic floor might be tight, come and find out. Some simple understanding and an understanding of how to relax the muscles will usually allow you to overcome your problems.
Watch out for our next blog which will focus on the problems that might occur as a result of a tight pelvic floor.