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Back to Life Physical Therapy
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Join us the third Thursday of every month for the Piedmont Stroll! We're at 4315 Piedmont Ave., Oakland.
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Amy Selinger was on KQED'S Forum! Take a listen!

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There's another side to pelvic floor dysfunction: Pain.

The pelvic floor needs to be able to contract enough and with the right timing so that you hold your organs in and don't pee when you don't mean to... And it has to be able to relax as well!... so you can defecate, or put in a tampon or birth a baby! Sometimes the pelvic floor muscles have the problem that they can't relax properly. This can result in painful or difficult bowel movements, painful intercourse, painful sitting and other pelvic pain conditions...

One thing that may help is diaphragmatic breathing:
Lie on your bed or on the floor (or on a mat). Inhale slowly through your nose into your belly and pelvis. When ready to exhale, allow the air to flow outward without pushing or blowing. Wait until your body cues you to take the next breath, and repeat. Try to do this for at least 10 minutes.

Another thing that can help is gently stretching the pelvic muscles. You can do some of that yourself and a physical therapist can show you or your partner how.

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The pelvic floor and abdominal muscles work together a lot... When you cough, sneeze, laugh or even speak, your abdominals and pelvic floor all contract together to hold your organs in and provide the resistance required to generate the force behind the cough etc. At the same time your pelvic floor has to close your urethra so you don't pee! Unfortunately the coordination there can get disrupted by falls or other traumas (even from long ago), childbirth, chronic constipation or diarrhea and many other things...

If you do leak, try this:
Lie on your back and take a big breath into your belly. When ready, begin to blow out by quietly saying shhh. Notice that your belly and ribs begins to fall. Take another belly breath and this time as your belly begins to fall say to yourself, "how could I let my belly and ribs fall a little more". (If you do this and your waistline narrows like you were wearing a corset you are on the right track). Then try again: breathe into your belly, quietly say shhh, let your belly narrow and while that is happening add in a little pelvic floor contraction (also known as a Kegel). This is harder than you might think but don't work hard - just gently think of not passing gas and pull in your rectum as if you had a little gas. It is complicated to activate your belly and pelvic floor at the same time - but very important.

If you are having trouble - don't be surprised - just contact your local pelvic floor PT! (or us and we'll help you find someone near you).

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