Breathing exercises are so important when treating persistent pelvic pain. First, those in pain tend to breathe more shallowly, which doesn’t allow for your muscles and organs to stay well oxygenated. Second, the pelvic floor muscles form the bottom of the trunk, or core muscles, and the diaphragm is the roof of the trunk, or core muscles. Therefore, there is an important coordination that occurs between the diaphragm and the pelvic floor. If you do not do deep diaphragmatic breathing during the day, then your pelvic floor will stay tense and rigid, leading to more pain. 5-10 minutes of deep breathing several times per day, with an awareness of the lengthening of the pelvic floor (dropping) during the breath in, and the natural elevation of the pelvic floor during the breath out will help to develop some Pelvic Floor Rhythm throughout your day. This will lead to less tension in all of your muscles.
Exercise #1: The “S” sound
Relieves anxiety, tense muscles, and fatigue
- Lie on your back with your arms gently straightened out by your side. Lying down is most relaxing, but you can also take a mini-breathing break throughout your day in any position that you find yourself in. Take a deep breath in through your nose. Breathing in through your mouth sends a panic signal through your system, so it is preferable to breathe in through your nose. You can breathe out through your mouth, making an “S” sound as you exhale. This sound is one of the ways to strengthen your diaphragm by making you more aware of your exhalation. Repeat for 5-10 minutes several times per day.
- Make the sound of an “S” during the entire exhalation. Try to make that “S” sound as loud and as long as you can. Allow yourself to exhale normally as you make the “S” sound like a balloon expelling air when the top is open; don’t try and force the breath out.
- After 5 or 10 minutes, stop and observe how you feel. Does your breathing feel any different? Looser? Deeper?
Some common reactions to making the “S” sound are eye tearing, feeling the need to stretch, runny nose, and yawning. These are all good signs! One less common reaction is light-headedness. Although the feeling is uncomfortable, it is a positive sign. Your muscles need to absorb the extra oxygen. This exercise helps redirect the oxygen to your muscles, thus alleviating your light-headedness.
If you get lightheaded while breathing, do the following exercise:
Make fists with both hands and press the knuckle-side of your fists together in front of your chest; hold for 5 seconds. Then straighten your arms and reach out to the side as far as your arms will let your, keeping your fists closed; hold for 5 seconds.
Repeat this movement 5x