Pelvic pain can be caused by lots of different things like your menstrual cycle, stress, endometriosis, or pregnancy. The good news is that you don’t have to tolerate it—there are things you can use to help ease pelvic pain at home! Pelvic pain is usually caused by overactive muscles in or near the pelvic floor, meaning that stretching is a great way to relax the muscles and ease pelvic pain.
These four stretches are going to help ease the muscle tension within your pelvic floor and the surrounding muscles. Like any other muscle, the pelvic floor muscles need a steady balance between strength and mobility. Without it, symptoms such as pelvic pain, urine leakage, or pain with sex can occur. The pelvic floor can also be influenced by muscles in the surrounding area such as glutes, adductors (inner thigh), and hamstrings. If those muscles are overly tight or have poor mobility, the over-activity can ‘spill’ into the pelvic floor muscles causing increased pelvic tone and pain.
Now let’s get into the actual stretches! Check out the photos and descriptions below for how to do the stretch as well as tips for form and modifications! It is important to remember that stretching should NOT be painful. The pull or discomfort of tight muscles is okay, but these stretches should be pain-free!
1. Legs up the Wall
This stretch is one of our favorites for relaxing the pelvic floor, the hips, and all the leg muscles. This is also a great position to help with returning blood flow from the legs to the heart. The best thing about this is that you can do it anywhere there’s a wall! Just lay on your back with your butt as close to the wall as you can get and extend your legs straight up the wall. Feel free to add a pillow under your hips here if that is more comfortable for you. Hold this pose for 3-5 minutes and use that time to relax or work on some breathing exercises (more on this below).
2. Happy Baby
This stretch is a classic if you’ve ever practiced yoga before! It targets your pelvic floor and inner thigh muscles. Start by laying on your back and reaching your hands to grab the outside of your foot or ankle. If your muscles are really tight, it might be hard to get into this position, so instead of grabbing for the feet, try grabbing onto calves or behind the knees. Hold this stretch for 2-3 minutes, but make sure you’re able to keep breathing throughout the whole stretch. If you have pelvic organ prolapse or experience urine leakage with coughing/sneezing, this stretch might be too much pressure on your pelvic floor. Instead try doing this stretch one leg at a time to decrease the pressure.
3. Deep Squat
This is another yoga pose that we’ve adapted into a stretch for the pelvic floor! It stretches through your pelvic floor, inner thighs, and calves. Start by standing with your feet wide and toes pointing out. Then, sit down into a deep squat with the option to put a yoga block or pillow under your tailbone for more support. From here, bring your elbows to the inside of your knees to add more stretch through the inner thighs. Hold this pose for 2-3 minutes, but make sure you’re able to keep breathing throughout the whole stretch. You also have the option to do this in front of a wall so that you can lean against it and relax your body rather than trying to hold yourself up.
4. Lizard Lunge
This stretch will help decrease muscle tension throughout all the muscles that attach to your pelvis. This is one that involves more movement than the other stretches we’ve talked about. Start with both hands planted on the ground and your right foot on the outside of your right hand. You’ll repeat this on the left side, too! Your left leg will be straight behind you as you bend into your right knee. From here, you can hold the lunge or flow back and forth to target the hamstrings in a half split. Spend 1-2 minutes per side while remembering to keep breathing throughout the whole stretch. If this is too deep of a stretch for you, you can always add yoga blocks under your hands to lessen the stretch!
BONUS: Breathing Exercise
Belly breathing is probably our most talked about ‘exercise’ here at Revitalize because pretty much everyone can benefit from adding this to their daily life. Belly breathing uses the diaphragm for breathing rather than having short, shallow breaths in the upper chest. Another benefit of belly breathing is the relaxing effect it has on the pelvic floor. As the diaphragm drops to let the lungs fill with air, all of the organs and content of the abdomen push down into the pelvic floor-causing it to lengthen and stretch! For someone with pelvic floor muscle over-activity, this indirect stretching to the pelvic floor muscles can be very beneficial. Belly breathing also helps relax our central nervous system which can decrease muscle tension in the pelvic floor as well.
Try adding belly breathing to any of the stretches above or by itself! Start by placing one hand on your belly and one on your chest. Inhale through your nose and fill your belly up with air, trying to keep the top hand still. Exhale out your mouth and repeat.
If you have pelvic pain and are ready to get rid of it, schedule your FREE 30 minute consultation with one of our specialized pelvic floor physical therapists today!