I first became aware of my pelvic floor in my mid-twenties, when my years of poor caveman posture in front of the computer caught up to me.
Relaxed Vs. Tense
Welcome all! First of all I want to let everyone know that this article about how to relax your pelvic floor muscles will not go on and on about doing Kegels and strengthening exercises. For people who suffer from pelvic floor dysfunction, that is the complete opposite of what we want.
Also please note that the information I present here is exactly that: information. Please please consult your doctor or physical therapist before performing any new exercises or stretches.
What Is Pelvic Floor Dysfunction?
A quick overview of pelvic floor dysfunction, including symptoms and causes.
- Lack of control over pelvic floor muscles
- Muscles in constant contraction state
- Involuntary contractions and inability to relax muscles
- Pelvic floor pain while sitting or during intercourse
- In men, pelvic floor dysfunction can cause premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction
- Pelvic floor dysfunction can cause irritable bowel syndrome and urinary frequency.
- People who engage in a lot of physical exercise—for example, dancers and gymnasts—are required to maintain strong pelvic muscles and hold strong contractions in order to perform their exercises. This often leads to constantly holding a tense pelvic floor.
- People who are a little shy, anxious or depressed may find that they tense many muscles in their body and this includes the pelvic floor muscles. When you feel anxious, you will automatically tense these muscles, and it can become a habit that's hard to break.
- Poor posture, including the way you sit, can play a huge role in pelvic floor dysfunction. A major cause of pelvic floor dysfunction is anterior pelvic tilt or a curve in the lower back.
- Tight hip flexors are a major cause. Do you find yourself favoring a certain leg when standing up, or do you lean with your pelvis out to one side? This can cause an imbalance in your pelvic floor muscles, causing them to tense up to support your body.
I feel like I am rambling on a bit, and I know you want me to hurry up and get to the exercises, but remember the most important thing is to make a conscious effort to examine how you are holding your pelvic floor muscles throughout the day. For example, when feeling tense, take a deep breath through your diaphragm and relax your pelvic floor. This can be a good way to train your brain as well as fight anxiety. Now to the exercises.
Exercise 1: Pelvic Floor Relaxation and Opening up the Hip Rotators
The first exercise is a relaxation exercise which should not only help to relax your muscles but also relax your mind.
- Lie down on a comfortable surface on your back
- Place the soles of your feet together and open up your hips
- Extend your arms straight out form your sides
- Take a deep breath in through the nose into the pit of your stomach, focusing on relaxing your pelvic floor muscles
- Exhale slowly while maintaining focus on your muscles.
If you find it hard to open up your hips, you can place a pillow under your upper thighs and lower buttocks. Try to do a relaxation exercise for about 10 -15 minutes. Let yourself go and relax your entire body including your pelvic floor muscles. Feel them relax as you breathe in deeply.
The video below will also help you in loosening those tight hip rotators in order to perform the pelvic floor relaxation more easily.
Loosening Hip Rotators
Exercise 2: Easy Pelvic Floor Stretch
This stretch is by far my favorite, as it doesn't require flexible hip rotators and will give a pleasant stretch to your pelvic muscles as well as give your muscles a chance to relax.
The exercise is often referred to as the pillow stretch or lower abdominal stretch. To perform the exercise you will:
- Warm up with some light stretches to get your blood moving
- Lie flat on your back in a comfortable spot or on a yoga/exercise mat
- Place a folded-over pillow (or a foam roller, or other semi-firm object) under your buttocks or upper thighs.
- Spread your arms directly out to your sides (or stretch them out above your head flat on the floor for a more intense stretch).
- Hold this position and breathe deeply, focusing on relaxing your pelvic floor muscles.
- You should find as you take a deep breath into your diaphragm that your pelvic floor muscles will naturally relax. Relax your anus and surrounding muscles if you are prone to hold tension in these areas.
- Do this exercise for 10-15 minutes a day to help promote relaxation in your pelvic floor muscles.
- Note: Always consult your physical therapist or doctor before performing any new exercises. This exercise can put a bit of strain on your lower back and abdominals so please take it easy and start with a smaller pillow and work your way up.
- The KEY to this exercise is to have your pelvic bone as the highest point to not just relieve the pressure of the weight of your body bearing down on your pelvic muscles but to help produce an effective stretch.
Exercise 3: Pelvic Floor Massage With Tennis Ball
Massage can be a very useful tool in fighting pelvic floor tightness. When used to loosen tight muscles before a stretching session, it should give you a better range of movement and a more intense stretch.
Internal/external massage is a common practice used by pelvic floor therapists. I hope to cover more techniques for home massage in my next article. For now I will explain a simple massage you can perform with a tennis ball or similar ball you will find laying around the house.
This exercises can be performed on the floor but I have found it easier to hit the muscle when you use a chair.
The muscle we are primarily trying to target here is the perineum which for men is located between the penis and anus and for women between the vagina and anus. This is a common exercise used by dancers to push blood through the pelvic floor muscles and encourage the pelvic muscles to relax.
- Warm up before this exercise with a quick jog on the spot, our use a heating pad to warm up the muscles before massage.
- Place the tennis ball under your perineum and gently ease your body weight onto it. (I want to emphasize "gently" here.)
- Breath deeply and relax into the ball, focusing on relaxing your perineum and surrounding muscles
- You may feel involuntary contractions; try to focus and prevent these from occurring.
- Stop after 3-5 minutes.
There you have it: a simple pelvic-floor soft tissue massage to improve your ability to relax your pelvic muscles. Your pelvic floor muscles get put under an amazing amount of stress throughout the day, as they constantly have weight bearing down on them as you sit, stand, or walk around. The only time they ever see some real rest is when you go to sleep at night.
In the next article, I will cover massaging the levator ani muscle which has been found to be responsible for many pelvic floor dysfunctions including pain and tightness.
Relaxing Those Muscles: Conclusion
I hope the article helped you find some techniques to relieve pelvic pain and relax tense and tight pelvic floor muscles. Everyone is very different and it may take a little time to find out the best techniques to help you relax your muscles.
A few points before you leave:
- Always be conscious of your pelvic floor muscles. If you find yourself contracting them, relax and let them release their tension. Train your body and your mind to relax these muscles fully.
- Always remember, however, that whenever you are lifting anything heavy or performing vigorous exercises, your pelvic floor muscles are required to contract strongly and tense up, in order to hold all your organs securely and support your body weight. Re-teach your muscles to relax and contract as required.
- During colder weather you may find your pelvic floor muscles are sometimes impossible to relax. Use hot baths or steam rooms to help you fight cold tight muscles.
- Please be aware of your posture; don't lean on one leg, or have your feet pointed outwards or too far in. All these types of things will put undue stress on the pelvic floor muscles as they try to compensate for poor posture.
If people enjoy this article, I will write another one covering the levator ani (external massage and internal massage for men and women), as well as some yoga and stretches to target tight pelvic floor muscles.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Kaung Zaw on April 10, 2019:
Thank you for this useful information.
JB on September 19, 2018:
Very informative and appreciated- thank you
Elias on July 16, 2018:
This is very helpful article
Spunit on May 27, 2018:
Best article I have read so far, I am “possibly” suffering from LAS and life has been really bad for last few months and have not been able to find the reason so far. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a single doctor / PT in Mumbai who has any experience in treating this syndrome. Your article has possibly given me the reason of my problem and a hope that I can recover. Thank you so much !
Sid on March 26, 2018:
Thank you so much, I have suffered from urgency incontinence since 2012 and my pelvic floor is strong, this is the first article that tells me how to relax
expectus (author) from Land Downunder on January 15, 2018:
thanks for the support Babs, I hope to write a new article soon sorry for the delay.
Bhavita - thanks for the comment, sorry to hear about your pain and tightness. The removal of the coccyx is going to really affect your pelvic floor stability . do you also experience any back pain?
from the sounds of it your alignment is going to affect your bowel movements greatly. the coccyx stabilizes you in a seating position so the position on the toilet.
have you tried a squatty potty? to assist with bowel movements? other than that it might be useful to strengthen glutes to help stabilize better and possibly massaging tight muscles.
bhavita on January 13, 2018:
Im a woman aged 34 yrs and my anl sphincter goes very tight ,I cant let go my internal anal sphincter while voiding.I had my coccyx removed after ti got bent towards my rectum at 60 degrees.It helped with sitting but my internal analsphincter is still very tight.What can i do to let go.
Babs on January 06, 2018:
Please continue with an article on massaging the levator ani muscle. I am battling severe pelvic floor pain and all your information is very much appreciated. Thanks!
expectus (author) from Land Downunder on January 02, 2018:
Hi Pollyannalana, if you believe stress is causing the tension in your pelvic floor its possible that xanax may help , but I wouldn't jump straight to that probably start with a natural muscle relaxant like a high dosage of magnesium or a herbal relaxant
Pollyannalana from US on January 02, 2018:
What about nerve medication. I have read elsewhere online that medication such as xanax may be called for in stress or tension. Of course exercise would be preferable for all things when possible but wouldn't there be cases I wonder where medication for relaxation might be the cure? Especially in older or disabled individuals?
M.TARAKESWAR RAO on September 03, 2017:
very good advise
Linc Springer on August 27, 2017:
are the massages and stretches available yet?
Robin on April 02, 2017:
I am a 27 year old male, and i might have levator ani syndrome. my anus feel tight and have tension after i have a bowel movement. what sort of exercise i can do. I have gone through many tests and doctors said everything was normal
Laura on March 04, 2017:
love it! Please do write more thank you and blessings
Joe on January 04, 2017:
In reply to Stef: I would like to know more about your experiences regarding pelvic floor tension and ED. I seem to have the same problem. Can I contact you to ask some questions? Thanks
Ashley on January 03, 2017:
Please write more! So interesting and helpful. I appreciate your contribution to helping others :)
Sufferer on September 08, 2016:
Thanks for the article. I am the type who tenses their pc muscles due to stress and it has become habitual now. I really liked the exercises you suggested. Do you also have any suggestion for breaking the habit of tensing the pc muscles? Whenever I work on stretching my pc muscles for a couple of weeks, it helps with my problems, but it seems like at the same time habitually tensing my pc mucles causes the problem to return soon. So if you could share pointers for ways to break up the habit of tensing pc muscles, it would be a great help for me.
Stef on September 02, 2016:
Thank you so much!
You just saved my life.
I have had problems with Erectile Dysfunction for over a year now and it was freaking me out. This last week I was googling and found some horrible stories and I thought I would never have a sex life again. Even thought of suicide for a second...
I could not hold full erections for more than 5 seconds and it would go to 70% which would make it impossible to have normal sex, it ruined relationships and caused massive stress.
I tried so much and nothing really helped.
I tried the exercises above and WOW I CANNOT BELIEVE IT, I tried to get an erection afther the exercises and it was 100% erect without pain. And it did not go down without stimulation. I could hold it for a minute without touching it! I am so happy, I hope you read this comment. I don't know how I can express my deep gratitude for the person who wrote this article, thank you so much!
Hazel on September 23, 2014:
Thank you for the relaxation tips. My muscles are so tight I tear with intercourse, exercise, and I can't ride my bike anymore. I went to the doctors eight times in three months for severe tearing. I got multiple diagnosases, from three doctors. Two kinds of pills, two kinds of creams. All that money and you end up diagnosing yourself. Thank you so much I appreciate this. It has really helped.
expectus (author) from Land Downunder on May 27, 2014:
Hi Idelarr , yes it can definitely have an effect on sexual activities and lasting in bed. I hope to publish another hub soon on this topic or perhaps across on my blogspot blog.
idelarr on May 20, 2014:
I find this article very useful. I was wandering why pelvic floor dysfunction can affect sexual activities so much. For example, now that I have pelvic pain i notice how much i have to fight not to have a premature ejaculation. I mean the area is so sentitive that i cannot hold for too much. Do you why is this?? and What exercises are best for this issue??? Thanking you in advance
expectus (author) from Land Downunder on February 08, 2014:
Hello Rachael, I am glad you found the article useful,
I have actually setup a blogger blog dedicated to pelvic floor health it seems like more and more people are having issues below the belt
just started it a day ago but I hope to post more soon to help every one out - http://painfulpelvic.blogspot.com.au/
Rachael on February 01, 2014:
Hi! I am so glad I just discovered your article. I really needed this information, and I appreciate the time you put into this!
Will you be able to post the follow-up article soon? (The one where you mentioned"levator ani external massage , internal massage for men and women as well as some yoga and stretches to target tight pelvic floor muscles")? Thanks!
expectus (author) from Land Downunder on April 09, 2013:
thanks for the comment ShyAnne , All the best I hope some of these exercise can help you relax those muscles. Hope to publish the next article soon
ShyeAnne from Deep Bay, British Columbia, Canada on April 09, 2013:
Hi there, thank you for this interesting and informative article. I am dealing with this exact issue. I will check back to read your next hub.