Hypertonic Pelvic Floor: Symptoms, Causes, Stretches, and More

Most issues that relate to the female pelvic floor stem from it being weak, and Kegels are the answer. Or, at least that’s what we’ve been told over and over again. Yet, there is a very common condition that affects even those women who’ve been diligently doing their pelvic floor strengthening exercises. It’s hypertonic pelvic floor dysfunction. 

Yes, things down there can get too tight, and it’s doing you a disservice. 

What Is Hypertonic Pelvic Floor Dysfunction? 

A hypertonic pelvic floor is a form of female pelvic floor dysfunction. It’s when your pelvic floor muscles and tissues are tight, continuously contracted, and unable to relax. Even if you’ve been working out or Kegeling a lot, hypertonic pelvic floor muscles and tissues are actually weak. 

As a result, the pelvic floor is unable to provide proper support for the pelvic organs. Blood and oxygen flow to it is restricted. As a matter of fact, pelvic floor specialists state that as little as a 10% increase in contraction can decrease blood and oxygen flow by a whopping 50%!

So, imagine if your pelvic floor is continuously in a hypertonic state. This means that the muscles and tissues in it are constantly deprived of blood as well as the nutrients and oxygen it carries. In addition to that, it can also create an acidic environment that is not only inflammatory but can also be harmful to the muscles, tissues, and nerves in the area. 

Hypertonic pelvic floor dysfunction in the female population is common. Very common, to be precise. Many doctors believe that it is more common than science is aware of. Yet, in a world where women’s health issues are taboo, little attention is being dedicated to it. 

So, how can you tell that you suffer from it? Let’s take a look at the most common female hypertonic pelvic floor symptoms. 

Hypertonic Pelvic Floor Symptoms

A healthy pelvic floor is able to contract and relax to provide support to pelvic organs and bowel and urine movements whereas a hypertonic one can’t. Since the relaxation element is lacking, you are likely to experience issues related to these organs. 

While a pelvic floor therapist is most likely to provide you with a solid diagnosis, the symptoms below can serve as key indicators that you may have a hypertonic pelvic floor:

  • Incontinence,
  • Painful urination,
  • Delayed start of urine flow,
  • Slow urine flow,
  • Inability to completely empty the bladder, 
  • Frequent urination,
  • Frequent urination,
  • Constipation,
  • Need to strain to pass bowel movements,
  • Difficulty emptying the bladder and bowels, 
  • Painful sex,
  • Inability or difficulty to achieve orgasm,
  • Chronic pelvic pain, especially when sitting,
  • Lower back or hamstring pain,
  • A pelvic tilt,
  • Instability in the hip area

Do these symptoms describe what you’re struggling with? Then, let’s find out how you got here.

What Causes Hypertonic Pelvic Floor Dysfunction?

In most cases, there isn’t a single reason that leads to hypertonic pelvic floor dysfunction. Instead, a combination of causes and risk factors contributes to the muscles and tissues tensing up. Knowing how you got it, can help you determine the best course of action to take as not all solutions may have equal benefits for you. 

The most common causes of hypertonic pelvic floor dysfunction in a female body include:

1. Intense Working Out and Tensing of the Core

Intense exercising can lead to hypertense pelvic floor dysfunction

If you continuously contract your core (and pelvic muscles since they work together) it can lead to hypertonic pelvic floor dysfunction. That’s because these muscles are always “on” and do not get a chance to relax.

2. Too Many Kegels

Kegels have a great purpose (in theory) – to strengthen a weak pelvic floor. What’s weak needs to be strengthened. Pure logic. Yet, women’s bodies are a lot more complex than that. To properly perform Kegels, you need to contract pelvic floor muscles and then relax them. Yet, the relaxation part is what many neglect or forget, making Kegels ineffective or even harmful. So, you end up getting super strong pelvic muscles that are always “on” and never or barely ever relax.

Kegels are not always good. Watch this video on why it’s not

3. Continuously Holding Urine and Bowels 

Public toilets aren’t the most enjoyable or clean place out there. So, many tend to help their urine and feces in until they get home. While you may get to relieve yourself in the comfort and cleanliness of your home, your pelvic floor muscles will have worked overtime the entire time. 

4. Excess Levels of Stress, Anxiety, and/or Fear 

These emotions cause certain muscle groups to tighten. The pelvic floor is one of them. Since the response to these emotions is either fight or flight, your body responds to it by tucking in your tailbone. As your pelvic tissues attach to the tailbone, they contract and remain tense if the factor causing stress, fear, or anxiety does not go away.

Find your calm and manage your stress here

5. Trauma or Injuries during Pregnancy and Labor 

Most women suffer from some form of injury during pregnancy and childbirth be it mild tearing, episiotomies, or instrumental delivery. This results in the development of scar tissue. By its nature scar tissue is less elastic and inhibits blood and oxygen flow as well as the normal function of the muscles and tissues around it. The result – hypertonic pelvic floor dysfunction. 

6. Abdominal or Pelvic Issues and Health Conditions

Surgeries, STDs, health conditions like IBS and fibromyalgia, and women’s health issues such as endometriosis and fibroids can result in chronic inflammation of the pelvic floor. This can eventually impact its functionality. 

Now that you’ve pinpointed what has contributed to you developing hypertonic pelvic floor dysfunction, let’s see what you can do about it. Great news – a hypertonic pelvic floor is reversible dysfunction and there are plenty of things you can do on your own. 

How to Relax Hypertonic Pelvic Floor Muscles?

Relaxation techniques can help combat hypertonic pelvic floor dysfunction

There are quite a few options for how to relax hypertonic pelvic floor muscles in a female body. Some of them are more well-known whereas others are less popular. However, taking advantage of at least a few help you successfully relax hypertonic pelvic floor muscles. 

1. Block Therapy

This method focuses on releasing blocks and adhesions in the fascia, the connective tissue that permeates our entire bodies. As a result, this can increase blood and oxygen flow. Releasing these blocks and adhesions will also help hypertonic pelvic floor muscles to relax. 

Why Fascia is crucial to healing with birth injuries, prolapse, and the pelvic floor?

2. Scar Tissue Remediation

If you have suffered from injuries during childbirth, scar tissue remediation can be one of the most beneficial ways to relax hypertonic pelvic floor muscles. This technique works on improving the functionality of scar tissue. This improves blood and oxygen flow as well as muscle and nerve function, leading to improved functionality and health of the entire pelvic floor

3. Vaginal Steaming

Vaginal steaming is an ancient technique that is regaining its lost popularity due to its numerous positive effects on female health. It involves sitting or squatting over a steaming pot of herbal infusion. The technique promotes relaxation and blood flow which can help you relax hypertonic pelvic muscles. 

You can also choose from a wide range of vaginal steaming herbs which can add additional benefits to female health.

4. Hypopressives

Hypopressives are an exercise, breathing, and posture routine that focuses on the core and pelvic floor. It improves the functionality of the areas, helping them to recover their ability to contract and relax optimally when the body needs it. 

5. Yoga 

Yoga can be beneficial for two reasons – it includes postures that can help stretch and relax hypertonic pelvic floor muscles as well as promote relaxation. If stress and anxiety are contributing to your pelvic muscles being tense, you may find relief in a regular yoga routine. 

6. Pilates

This is a low-impact fitness system designed to improve flexibility, muscle tone, core strength, endurance, postural alignment, and muscle balance. This can help you relax hypertonic pelvic floor muscles as well as develop support in surrounding muscle groups, providing support for the pelvic floor and improving the overall functionality of your body.

7. Pelvic Floor Therapy

If you would like professional support, consider seeing a pelvic floor therapist. They will be able to provide a personalized approach by either using tools or suggesting stretches and exercises that can help you relax your hypertonic pelvic floor muscles.

8. Somatic Trauma Therapy

Somatic trauma therapy or simply somatic therapy is a body-centered approach that focuses on the mind-body connection. It integrates psychotherapy with different physical therapies to achieve holistic healing. 

As opposed to traditional talking therapy, somatic trauma therapy also applies a wide variety of mind-body exercises. You may expect approaches such as meditation, deep relaxation, visualizations, affirmations in addition to movement practice such as yoga, dance, massage, exercise, and more.  

Due to its holistic approach, somatic trauma therapy can be helpful when dealing with stress, depression, anxiety, grief, trauma, abuse, relationship issues, and sexual function as well as physical pain, digestive issues, and other medical conditions. Since the hypertonic pelvic floor dysfunction can stem from various factors, this form of therapy can effectively address its root causes. 

Best Hypertonic Pelvic Floor Stretches and Exercises

While the combination of various therapies and approaches can help you achieve the fastest and most long-lasting results, incorporating regular stretches and exercises that provide some downtime to your hypertonic pelvic floor can be extremely helpful in the long term.

Below are some simple yet effective hypertonic pelvic floor stretches and exercises:

1. Deep Abdominal Breathing

Woman performing deep breathing exercise to relax hypertonic pelvic floor muscles

As simple as it may seem, abdominal breathing does not come naturally for all. Nonetheless, it’s one of the simplest stretches and exercises to relax hypertonic pelvic floor muscles. Regular abdominal breathing practice can also do wonders for your stress levels. To perform it, do the following:

  • Sit comfortably or lie on your back on a flat surface such as the floor. Bend your knees and place the soles of your feet on the floor. 
  • Next, place one hand on your chest and the other hand on your belly. 
  • Inhale and imagine filling up your belly like a balloon. The hand on your belly should lift whereas the one on your chest should remain still. 
  • Allow the air to exit without forcing it out. 
  • Aim for your inhales and exhales to be at least three seconds long. 
  • Repeat daily for approximately five minutes. 

 

2. Child’s Pose

Child's pose can help stretch hypertonic pelvic floor muscles

Child’s Pose is a common relaxation pose in yoga. It stretches the lower back allowing the pelvic floor muscles to relax and stretch as well. 

  • Sit onto your heels. Next, rest your forehead on the ground. You can even close your eyes here. 
  • Relax your body and take deep breaths filling your chest and your belly. 
  • Remain in the pose for five deep breaths or longer. 

 

3. Reclined Pigeon Pose

Reclined pigeon pose can help stretch hypertonic pelvic floor muscles

This pose allows you to stretch the hips and gently release and relax hypertonic pelvic floor muscles.

  • Lie on your back, keeping your knees bent and feet on the floor. 
  • Place one of your feet a few inches above the opposite knee. Then, flex the foot that’s on top. 
  • Lift the bottom leg, and grab hold of the thigh with your hands. If that’s too easy, take it a step deeper and grab the shin. After that, pull both legs toward your chest. 
  • Hold the pose for five deep long breaths. Once you’re ready, switch sides. 

If you are starting a family and want to make sure of good Pelvic floor health, read more here

Heal Hypertonic Pelvic Floor Dysfunction with Women Cycles

Have you come across techniques and approaches that you would like to try to relax hypertonic pelvic floor muscles? Women Cycles would be happy to help you integrate them into your daily life. We offer a range of online pelvic floor courses designed by women who’ve experienced hypertonic pelvic floor dysfunction and other female health issues. 

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