Have you ever been so tense… So anxious… So bothered and frustrated and fearful and amped-up that everything — I mean everything — in your body felt clenched and tight?
People normally notice tension in their shoulders and neck. However, the next time you feel this way, hone in on your pelvic region. You may note that your bottom muscles are clenched, and usually your pelvic floor muscles will be tight and clenched as well.
Just like unchecked shoulder and neck tension can contribute to headaches, so too can unchecked pelvic tension contribute to pain. Some people refer to this pain as “A Headache in the Pelvis.” This is a significant concern for people with underlying issues such as constipation, interstitial cystitis, and dyspareunia (pain during sex).
I love teaching and talking about kegels (contracting and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles), but it’s also important to know how to do a “reverse kegel” — to know how to COMPLETELY RELAX the pelvic floor muscles.
I refer to pelvic floor muscle relaxation as a reverse kegel or a “pelvic drop,” and I discuss the technique in the Relaxation section of my book, Lady Bits. Practicing the pelvic drop can help decrease pelvic pain, regulate pelvic muscle tension, can relieve constipation, and can improve your sex life. See below for the “how-to,” taken directly from my book.
A reverse kegel or a “pelvic drop” is basically the opposite of a kegel contraction. Remember, it is just as important to know how to relax and release the pelvic floor muscles as it is to know how to contract them. Women who are pregnant need to know how to “let go” in order to give birth. You need to be able to “let go” in order to have pain free intercourse. You need to “let go” to fully empty your bladder. You need to “let go” in order to have a bowel movement! So you see? The release is very important. Give it a try.
Pelvic Drop Practice
Imagine your pelvic floor as an elevator that starts at a lobby and can go up two floors, or can go down to a light-filled, completely non-threatening basement. Your baseline level of pelvic floor tension (i.e. no contraction and no relaxation) is the “lobby.” Start here.
Imagine the elevator doors sliding closed as you begin your pelvic floor muscle contraction. Gently lift your pelvic floor elevator up to the first floor by contracting your pelvic floor muscles halfway. Do not fully contract; in other words, do not allow your pelvic floor elevator to go all the way up to the second floor.
Next, relax fully and visualize your pelvic floor elevator lowering past the lobby and going all the way down to the basement. Really, fully, and deeply let go. Release any tension that might be held in the pelvic floor as you imagine the elevator doors sliding open to reveal a light-filled basement. Relax your pelvic floor enough that you stop just short of urinating.
One of the women in my fitness classes said that the pelvic drop felt so good, “my eyes rolled back in my head!” She was feeling complete and utter pelvic floor relaxation.
Repeat 5 to 10 times.
Note: If you feel like you might actually urinate while practicing this exercise, empty your bladder before completing it so that you feel more comfortable and more able to fully relax the pelvic floor muscles.