This month, I’ve been teaming up with Pelvic Health Physiotherapist, Maria Elliott to talk about pelvic pain and ways to manage endometriosis. I was fortunate enough to discover Maria a year after surgery for stage 3 endo and adenomyosis. She is known for her healing hands and has been instrumental in my pain management.

More often than not if you have pain or surgery on your shoulder, hip or knee you’re referred to a physio, so why not for your pelvis? Endometriosis adhesions can pull and tighten muscles, nerves and ligaments in the pelvis causing inflammation that triggers debilitating pain.  As Maria explains, “it’s important to release tight muscles and fascia in the pelvis to free up the organs underneath such as the small intestine, colon and bladder so they can slide and glide better, reducing inflammation and pain.”

Pelvic physio can benefit patients both before and after surgery, however, there needs to be better awareness and access to this specialised treatment. A recent report by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Endometriosis criticised the lack of pain management resources available to endo patients in the UK. Maria and I strongly believe there needs to be a more holistic approach to pain management using physiotherapy, an anti-inflammatory diet and gentle yoga alongside conventional pharmacological and surgical treatment.

Instagram Series

We’ve put together a series on instagram to discuss and demonstrate how this holistic approach helps manage pain. Using breathwork, yoga postures and gentle self massage, we discuss and demonstrate techniques you can try at home.

Part 1

An introduction with Maria Elliott to how pelvic physio helps treat Endo.

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Part 2

A 30 minute flow and restore yoga session to connect with the breath and gently stretch to release tension & tightness.

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Part 3

Maria guides me through self-massage techniques and postures to release fascia and the pelvic floor.

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Part 4

Maria treats me in her London clinic, using manual therapy and an LPG machine to alleviate Endo symptoms.

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Excercises to try at home

To accompany physical therapy treatment for endo it’s also important to do specific exercises that you can practice regularly at home. Here are 4 simple exercises to start practicing 2 to 3 times a day. If you’re new to yoga and you have pelvic pain it’s good to start small and easy. Just remember there’s no quick fix and try to be patient. It took a while for your pelvic area to become this tense and painful, it may take a while to loosen it back off again.

1 – Belly breathing

Belly Breathing

You can do this either sitting or preferably lying down on your back. Place both hands on your belly, maybe connecting your thumbs and forefingers in a diamond shape. Take a deep, slow breath through your nose down into your tummy. Hold for a second and breathe out fully through your mouth. Repeat this as many times as you like, maybe counting in for 2-4 counts, pausing at the top of the inhale and exhaling out for the same number. On each exhale see if you can soften and release the body a little. Notice the hands rise as you inhale and fall as you exhale.

2 – Knee to chest

Lay on your back, knees bent, feet hip distance apart on the floor. Gently, without force, draw your right knee towards your chest and out towards your right arm pit with your right hand on your shin. Place the left hand on your belly, take 3-6 slow breaths into your belly. Lower the right foot to the floor and repeat on the otherside.

3 – Reclined pigeon pose

Reclined Pigeon Pose

Lay on your back, knees bent, feet hip distance apart. Lift your right knee and place your right ankle on your left thigh, let the right knee drop out to the side. Push your right thigh away gently with your right hand. Either stay here or interlace your fingers at the back of the left thigh as you draw the left knee to your chest. Which ever version you take, breathe here for 6 deep and steady breaths.

4 – Happy Baby

Happy Baby Pose

Lay on your back. On an exhale, bend both your knees towards the chest and let the knees drop out to the sides a little so they’re slightly wider than your torso. Either hold on to the ankles or reach the outsides of your feet with your hands (keeping your arms on the inside of your legs). Reach your heels up towards the ceiling and drop your thighs down towards your rib cage. Breathe into your belly for 6 breaths.

These basic therapeutic exercises are a good way to start releasing tightened muscles associated with endo. These simple postures and breathing exercises help to initiate stretching and bring gentle movement that is essential to the healing process. They may not work for everyone, so go easy and listen to your body.

Think about the hamstrings and the glutes, they all connect in to the pelvic area. So when we get more movement in those muscles it allows the pelvic floor to release and let go.