Not only do men have a pelvic floor, as was discussed in an earlier blog, they can also experience a tight male pelvic floor!
What happens with a tight male pelvic floor?
Pelvic floor muscles are like other muscles in the body in that they can become tight. Most people either know people with low back pain or have experienced their own bout of low back pain. These same people are often found to have tight muscles around their hips. The pelvic floor muscles are no different in that they can become tight and cause pain in areas such as the rectum, the testicles or scrotum, the low back or hips. Besides pain, a tight pelvic floor can cause symptoms such as urinary frequency/urgency, pain during ejaculation and muscle spasm in the buttocks region.
How does it happen?
Although everyone is different, some possible reasons that may lead to an overly tight pelvic floor are:
Men often stand with their feet pointed slightly outwards, or externally rotated. This keeps the external rotators, the glute muscles, overactive leading to eventual tightness. These muscles tend to press the buttock cheeks in towards each other and one of the muscles involved in this presentation is the piriformis. The piriformis muscle plays a role in the health of the pelvic floor and if this muscle is tight, so too is the rest of the pelvic floor.
Men who played a lot of hockey through their lifetimes. This sport does encourage that externally rotated position again with the hips, contributing towards the tight pelvic floor muscles
Though not specific just for men, clenching the buttock muscles throughout the day is a common strategy used by many people. This keeps the buttock muscles in a contracted position all day leading to the overly tight pelvic floor
Should I do Kegels?
Absolutely not! Strengthening a tight pelvic floor is not the answer! We would never strengthen other muscles in the body that are too tight because in order to have great strength, muscles have to be coming from a fully lengthened position. Release work is the first line of defence.
Treatment options for a tight male pelvic floor
Dry needling the external muscles; glutes and associated hip muscles. I have had great success with using a dry needling approach to help release trigger points in tight muscles such as the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, gluteus minims, tensor fascia latae, etc. These muscles all work around the hip so releasing them will help the ‘inside’ muscles settle down as well.
Using stretches along with breathing into the pelvic floor helps release these muscles
Breathing deeply and sending your inhale down into your pelvic floor will help soften these muscles so they can let go. When we inhale, our pelvic floors should lower, so focussing our inhales down into our pelvic floor muscles will help those muscles lower and release their tension.
It matters a lot less about the time we lay down to try and release our pelvic floor muscles if we aren’t addressing why they are the way they are. Posture can play a role and overly clenching the buttock muscles is common. So remind yourself as often as possible throughout your day to notice whether you are clenching and if so, let it go. If you are having a tough time remembering to do this through your busy day, try something like
setting an alarm on your phone to go off every 20 minutes
pick some coloured little dot stickers from the dollar store and put them in places you will see them throughout your day. Every time you see one, you check in with yourself and make sure your butt is relax
If your tight pelvic floor muscles are causing you to have an overactive bladder, then addressing this is just as important as the physical release techniques. The way to do this is to “give the brain a different message”. If you just went to the bathroom 20 minutes ago and already feel like you have to go again, give your brain something else to process. With tight pelvic floor muscles, the best remedy is the deep breathing:
You feel like you have to go again, even though you just went 20 minutes ago
- Relax, sit or lean against something if possible
- Take 3-5 deep breaths
- When the urge has subsided, continue with what you were doing
*** even if you put off going again by 5 or 10 minutes, this is still positive, as the change happens bit by bit ***
For more ideas, refer to my youtube channel at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJqDcZOOLoNKdBwxmY_wawA