In the pelvic health world, we often use the phrase “pressure management,” but what does that mean for you? Think of your pelvic floor as the base of a canister or soda can. Canisters have a top, sides, and a bottom. The top of your ‘canister’ goes as high as your vocal folds, the sides are core (both front and back), and the bottom is the pelvic floor. When you breathe, the pressure in the canister changes. So, when you breathe in, pressure increases with expansion of the canister allowing for increased room for pressure. This typically causes the pelvic floor to relax or lengthen. When you exhale, pressure reduces and returns to a resting position, inherently contracting the pelvic floor muscles to reflect this change in pressure. Typically, the body handles this well. However, when there is a trauma, incoordination, weakness, or an alteration in some capacity to any side of the canister, a mismanagement of pressure can occur.
That’s where pressure management treatment options can come into play. Breathing strategies such as paced breathing, diaphragmatic breathing, avoiding a valsalva maneuver, and functional training can work together to optimize the pressure in this canister. Pressure management is crucial in a variety of conditions: incontinence, prolapse, pregnancy, postpartum, pelvic pain, and so much more. While these conditions may be common, that does not mean they are normal and you do not have to live with these conditions. Pelvic health physical therapy can also be helpful to assess what is going on individually and establish the fundamentals of pressure management (if appropriate) while progressively layering on functional movement patterns in a targeted and personalized approach. Working with a pelvic PT can be extremely helpful in reducing your symptoms and returning you to an active and healthy lifestyle.