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The Restful Pelvis

The Difficulty of Resting

Rest. Relax. Take a deep breath. These are common statements or even commands we hear during mindful movement practices like yoga and meditation. Currently, our lifestyle of go-go- go challenges our innate ability to relax and quiet our bodies. But why is it so difficult?

There are many factors, but for many, the answer is related to chronic pain. It can be especially difficult to relax, rest and restore when pain is present in the body and mind. It is our body’s natural tendency to stay on alert and protect itself when there is pain. This is especially true with chronic pelvic pain and pelvic floor dysfunction. It is estimated that at least one in three men and women suffer from pelvic floor dysfunction, specifically pelvic pain.

Pelvic floor dysfunction, specifically pelvic pain, is considered pain from the umbilicus to lower hips lasting greater than six months. The onset of pelvic pain occurs for many reasons including painful periods, pregnancy, birth-related trauma, pelvic/abdominal surgery or falling onto the tailbone.

The pelvic floor is a fundamental part of the core made up of a group of muscles within the pelvis. These muscles support the pelvic organs, maintain continence, stabilize the pelvic bones and hips, enhance sexual function and promote vascular exchange from the lower legs to the heart. Both men and women rely on the pelvic floor musculature to support daily eliminations like urination and defecation, enjoy intimacy, go for a run, and for women specifically, giving birth. Like any other skeletal muscle injuries, the pelvic floor needs to appropriately contract and then lengthen―or relax―to meet the demands of the activity at hand. This group of muscles is often overlooked as the driver of pain in the lower back, hips and groin.

Pacifying the Pelvis

Chronic pelvic pain can be difficult to address―like other chronic pain like fibromyalgia, chronic regional pain syndrome and chronic low back pain―as many systems are involved.