New Year's Resolutions for Your Pelvic Floor: Breathe!
- Written by Nancy Hoi Wong OTD, OTR/L, RYT200
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Believe it or not, the pelvic floor can affect the quality of our breathing.
The opposite is also true:
Promoting efficient diaphragmatic breathing can improve function of the pelvic floor.
In this study by Zivkovic et al. Zivkovic et al. , diaphragmatic breathing exercises were effective in helping to retrain children with voiding dysfunctions, including bowel and bladder issues.
This easy habit can also help with managing stress. Studies such as this one by Ma, Yue, Gong, et al. (2017) show that diaphragmatic breathing can improve cognitive performance and reduce negative subjective and physiological consequences of stress in healthy adults.
Other studies like Roditi and Robinson (2011), show that diaphragmatic breathing can help the body break the pain cycle, thereby reducing pain and chronic pain.
Deep breathing can be practiced anywhere, especially during the holidays: stuck in a traffic jam, waiting in line at the store, or at night before you go to bed. Below are some simple instructions for breathing on your back.
- Lay on your back. Knees can be bent with feet flat on the floor, or knees can be propped up on a pillow or bolster.
- Place one hand over the heart and one over the belly button.
- Inhale through the nose and feel both hands rise with the in-breath. Ribs are expanding, belly is also expanding, even the back of the body expands into the mat.
- Exhale gently and slowly, either through pursed lips or the nose. The air is slowly escaping as if you poked a hole in a tire with a needle and the air slowly passes out. The goal is to elongate the exhale, so that it is longer than the inhale.
- When the breath has been fully exhaled, pause for a second or two before beginning the breath cycle again, with another inhale. After you have exhaled wait a couple of seconds until you inhale again. Continue to breathing for 5-10 minutes.
Zivkovic V, Lazovic M., Vlajkovic M., Slavkovic A., Dimitrijevic L., Stankovic I., Vacic N. (2012). Diaphragmatic breathing exercises and pelvic floor retraining in children with dysfunctional voiding. Clinic of Physical Medicine, Rehabilitation and Prosthetics, Clinical Centre Nis, Nis, Serbia; Rehabilitation Institute Belgrade, Belgrade, Serbia; 3 Department of Nuclear Medicine, Clinical Centre Nis, Nis, Serbia; Clinic of Paediatric Surgery, Clinical Centre Nis, Nis, Serbia. Accessed from: https://www.minervamedica.it/en/journals/europa-medicophysica/article.php?cod=R33Y2012N03A0413
Ma, X., Yue, Z. Q., Gong, Z. Q., Zhang, H., Duan, N. Y., Shi, Y. T., … Li, Y. F. (2017). The Effect of Diaphragmatic Breathing on Attention, Negative Affect and Stress in Healthy Adults. Frontiers in psychology, 8, 874. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00874