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Understanding Pelvic Floor Tightness: How It Contributes to Postpartum Leaks for Moms



What is a Tight Pelvic Floor?


There is so much confusion on whether or not to kegel. Many of us mamas were told at our 6 week check up to just do kegels and we should be good.


Many of us mamas were brushed off with our symptoms of peeing our pants when sneezing, or feeling heaviness and pressure “down there."


I hear it all the time, mamas go to seek help about these embarrassing symptoms and when they finally open up about it they’re told “it’s normal just do kegels” or it’s straight to “there’s surgery for that.” 


The frustration on pelvic health and peeing your pants after birth to be “normal” is real. 


The first time I opened up about peeing myself was during a training for a high intensity choreographed class I wanted to teach at the local gym. 


 I had to change myself midway through because well I peed… I finally decided to ask the other mamas in the class with me if they experienced the same. Some just laughed and said “yeah that’s normal” but one mama informed me it wasn’t, to this day she is a true angel. I was given hope that my condition wasn’t permanent. 


However I didn’t seek therapy right away. After teaching 1-2x a week (all while soaking myself down to my knees) wearing pads, going to the bathroom multiple times before class, AND limiting my drinks-nothing worked. 


The thing is neither would kegels. I didn’t need kegels. In fact, if I did more kegels I was going to make things much worse. I was diagnosed with a hypertonic (tight) as well as a hypotonic (weak) pelvic floor. My pelvic floor needed some internal massage and breath work to make it better. 


So let’s dive into today’s topic: Hypertonic Pelvic Floor (aka a tight pelvic floor) and why kegels aren’t working…..


Postpartum leaking

A little overview:


The pelvic floor muscles are the muscles that sit in and surround your pelvis, located between the tailbone and pubic bone. The pelvic floor is a complex network of muscles, ligaments, and connective tissues that provide support to the pelvic organs, including the bladder, uterus, and rectum.


They connect to other muscles in your body like the transverse abdominals, psoas, glutes and hip flexors. When these muscles are weak or tight it can also impact the health of your pelvic floor


The group of muscles in the pelvic floor help with the squeeze connected with continence. It acts like a sling to hold and lift things up to prevent urine from leaking out. When the pelvic floor muscles are not functioning properly because of tension, they can’t do their job when stress is introduced to the area and urine leaks out.


What exactly is a "Hypertonic Pelvic Floor?”


A hypertonic pelvic floor, or a tense/tight pelvic floor occurs when the muscles of the pelvic floor become overly tense and tight. Unlike a weakened or lax pelvic floor (which is often more widely recognized) hypertonicity involves excessive contraction of these muscles.


Hypertonic (Tight) Pelvic Floor - can be diagnosed officially with a pelvic floor physical therapist where they can do various internal and external tests to determine an official diagnosis. While the symptoms below will give us an idea of what state your pelvic floor is in- it is NOT a diagnosis. 


  • Constipation

  • Pain with penetration

  • Symptoms can mimic UTI-if its negative, could be the tension in front

  • Leaking with sneezing, jumping or coughing

  • Feels like you can't get a good contraction, or it’s weak when you’re trying

  • Difficulty getting a full deep breath

  • Difficulty contracting

  • If doing kegels and things get worse, very likely that your pelvic floor has too much tension

  • SI joint, hip pain, deep butt pain can all be associated with pelvic floor tension 


Think of your bicep- if you held it up all day it doesn’t necessarily mean it's “strong," you’ve created tension by holding and contracting the muscle to the point it’s inefficient. Same idea for your pelvic floor. Tension/tightness can be caused from a few things:


Causes of Hypertonic Pelvic Floor:


Chronic Stress - Prolonged stress can contribute to increased muscle tension throughout the body, including the pelvic floor muscles. Individuals experiencing high levels of stress may unknowingly tense their pelvic floor muscles, leading to hypertonicity.


Posture and Alignment Barriers: Poor posture and misalignment can cause imbalances in muscle tension, affecting the pelvic floor. Sedentary lifestyles and extended periods of sitting can contribute to the development of hypertonic pelvic floor. 


Glute clenching, holding in your gas, or holding up your pelvic floor in fear of feeling pressure or heaviness  can continue to create unwanted tension in the pelvic floor 


Physical trauma, such as childbirth or pelvic surgery, can lead to hypertonic pelvic floor. In some cases, the body responds to trauma by increasing muscle tension as a protective mechanism.


Let’s clarify that both a hypotonic (weak) pelvic floor and hypertonic (tight) pelvic floor can cause leakage when sneezing, coughing, running or jumping.





Why Is It Important To Know If You Are Experiencing A Tight Pelvic Floor?


As mentioned earlier in my story, if you are one with a hypertonic pelvic floor you may want to limit or eliminate kegels as part of your strengthening plan and work on lengthening the muscles to eliminate the tension. If we continue to do kegels without lengthening, it may just make things worse and instead you’re taking two steps backwards. 


That doesn't mean you should never do kegels, but maybe for now you should hold off and work on your stress. I love telling the mamas inside my EmpowerHER Program (fitness & nutrition for the busy mom) that reducing stress is not only important for fat loss but also very important for our pelvic floor health. One thing I recommend is daily meditation, journaling with a gratitude mindset or something else that helps to reduce your stress. 


​​Working with an internal physical therapist is a great way to release your pelvic floor internally. A good PT friend of mine shares ways to do this on your own, in the comfort of your home that are inside my Pelvic Floor program. 


However, there are other things you can do to start working on lengthening. I incorporated some of these moves into my training program as part of my warm up and cool down to help down regulate the tension. 


3 Poses to Help Release a Tight Pelvic Floor


Learning to manage your stress is key to reclaiming your pelvic floor from tightness. I encourage you to learn to meditate and relax. Here are a few additional tips to help “let go” and work on releasing the pelvic floor:


CHILD'S POSE









FULL SQUAT BREATHING










HAPPY BABY











A hypertonic pelvic floor is a challenging condition that can significantly impact a mom’s quality of life. It can take some time, so give yourself some grace and don’t give up. I highly recommend going to see an internal pelvic floor therapist who can do a proper assessment for you, so you can start working on a plan that fits your needs and goals. 



Have you signed up for the FREE Pelvic floor Masterclass yet? Click the link below to sign up free 👇🏻





 


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