Updated: Jan 14, 2022
Kegel exercise and stretching are common knowledge that most individuals learn to do if they have issues with their pelvic floor. Little do they know that there is also emotionally driven pelvic floor dysfunction. When the brain perceives emotion as trauma, our body automatically suppresses our emotions resulting in pelvic pain and dysfunctions. Subconscious emotional suppression is common among sexual abuse of any gender, physical trauma, and accumulation of emotional and verbal abuse.
Human bodies depend solely on the autonomic nervous system to make adjustments necessary to ensure balance for body activities under ever-changing conditions, which is automatic in nature and involuntary. On the other hand, the somatic nervous system is voluntary and could be suppressed or discarded. Our central nervous system regulates both methods so that when a muscle increase contraction, our autonomous speeds up heart rate as a response to maintain homeostasis.
Emotions are defined as the natural automatic state of mind acquired from one's environment, situation, mood, or association with others. These are energy meant to advance through our bodies in response to events in our lives. It also helps us process, learn from, integrate, and let go of our experiences.
Problems will arise when our brain and body develop a habit of protecting the body from those emotions. Suppression of emotions stops the emotional flow, resulting in somatic symptoms such as pain, fatigue, extreme thoughts, anxiety, and bowel/bladder urgencies or incontinence.
("With stressful experience, if "flight or fight" energy is not expressed, somatic symptoms can develop (Levine, 1997)."
Kegel or stretching exercises alone are not always the correct procedure to address pelvic floor dysfunction. Awareness of unconscious protective patterns, whether mental or physical, is the key to addressing this. Pelvic floor physical therapy helps clients recognize these symptoms and address the issue. Learning how to choose your emotions and allow this to flow consciously requires significant retraining, retuning, which must be performed repeatedly and consistently. So, stretching and Kegel exercises are insufficient interventions for complex conditions. Perhaps there is more to this than just exercises.
The following are methods on how to free your trapped emotions.
Breathing exercises: Muscles usually respond to stress by increasing their contraction, which requires increased oxygenation. Coordinated breathing exercises allow internal and external gas exchange within the lungs stimulating ANS response for regulation in the body, allowing your body to relax and contract the activity. Lung function requires pressure regulation in thoracic and abdominal cavities resulting in postural control, gastric reflux inhibition, increasing of lower GI motility, and amplifying venous return• (Massery, 2016)
Mental relaxation: Perform activities that allow your mind to relax and take a vacation from all the environmental triggers you may be experiencing. Relaxation and mindfulness training has documented positive physiologic and functional effects •Mindfulness exercises decrease urinary urge (Baker et al., 2014) and chronic female pelvic pain (Fox et al., 2010)
Monitor your diet: You may wonder how this is related? But always remember that if you have a good metabolism, you also feel good about yourself, confidence builds up, and it also assists with the bladder/bowel functions.
Perform exercises that pelvic physical therapy prescribed. Pelvic floor physical therapy yoga, Pilates, and integrated movement impairment reversals are beneficial in handling pelvic floor issues such as bowel/bladder incontinences/urgencies and sexual functions.
Psychological and support group: Encourage yourself to get out of the house with modification or adaptations as needed for dysfunctions.
Sexual Health: Work on sexual cycles, positions, and appropriate lubrication.
Our pelvic floor muscles can respond correctly when the brain no longer perceives emotions as trauma. Education on recognizing feelings and allowing this emotion to flow to your body regularly and every day could make a difference. Unconscious suppression of the natural instinctive state of mind will only cause damage. So many studies and evidence-based practices are available to address this condition. Pelvic floor physical therapy specialists will guide you to your independent management and help you free your trapped emotions, inhibit pelvic pain, and improve your quality of life.