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The 4 Best Stretches for Pelvic Floor Dysfunction and Interstitial Cystitis

Alicia Betz
August 24, 2023

Reviewed by Josef Rappaport, DPT, Physical Therapist

What do you do when you’re faced with symptoms of interstitial cystitis (IC) and pelvic floor dysfunction (PFD), such as painful urination, abdominal pain, or frequent urination? If you’re like most people, finding relief is essential so you can improve your quality of life. 

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Women Who Used Elmiron® For Bladder Discomfort: Compensation May Be Possible!


How are IC and PFD Related? 

Interstitial Cystitis, a chronic and painful bladder condition, is often associated with PFD. Pain in the bladder can cause pain in surrounding areas, and it can also lead to dysfunction in the surrounding muscles over time. This can manifest as tightness or over-strengthening as opposed to weakness and loosening that’s much more common, especially postpartum.

pelvic floor

Other common symptoms of IC include frequent urination; tenderness; pelvic pressure; and abdominal, pelvic, and bladder pain. Because IC can affect the muscles in the pelvis, many people with the condition suffer from PFD. This may manifest as needing to bear down to urinate or pain during intercourse. 

Because both IC and PFD can decrease your quality of life, finding treatments that work to treat these conditions is essential. For many people, Elmiron* is the go-to medication for IC. To treat PFD, many people seek the help of a pelvic floor physical therapist. 

*While Elmiron can be helpful, no medication is without risk. Elmiron has been linked to vision loss and eye damage, and those who have been affected by these negative side effects are fighting back against the company that produces the drug with multiple lawsuits. Because drugs are never free from risk, people often seek alternative treatment methods for IC. If you have taken Elmiron for IC and experienced vision loss, you may be entitled to compensation. Click here to learn more.

Stretches for PFD and IC

Both medications and physical therapy can be quite expensive, but there are ways to work on your pelvic floor for free from the comfort of your home. When we think about pelvic floor exercises, many of us think about kegels. While these exercises can be effective for those who have a weak pelvic floor, many people with PFD actually have a pelvic floor that is too strong and tight. In this case, your goal should be to relax, lengthen, and stretch your pelvic floor. Traditional kegels can exacerbate the problem. 

Try these four pelvic floor stretches if you suffer from PFD:

Stretch #1. Piriformis Stretch 

Muscle stretched: Piriformis. The piriformis muscle is not a direct muscle of the pelvic diaphragm that makes up the pelvic floor, but it's very much part of the pelvic cavity and therefore often contributes to pelvic pain when it's tight.

There are multiple ways to stretch your piriformis, a muscle near your buttocks and hip. Try one of the following: 

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent. Place your right ankle on your left knee. Lift your left toes off the ground while keeping your heel on the ground. If you are more flexible, grab behind your left thigh or in front of your left calf to pull your legs closer to your chest. You should feel the stretch on the outside of your right hip. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds then switch sides.

  2. Begin by sitting in a cross-legged position. Keep your right leg in position and move your left leg behind you, keeping your leg flat on the ground. Balance your weight evenly on both hips. Lean forward until you feel a gentle stretch on the outside of your right hip. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds then switch sides.

Stretch #2. Happy Baby Yoga Pose 

Muscles stretched: this pose can help you relax and stretch your inner thighs, hamstrings, and hip rotators, all which are connected to your pelvic floor muscles. 

Lie on your back and put your feet in the air with your knees bent. The soles of your feet should be facing the ceiling. Grab the outside of your feet with your hands. If you can’t reach your feet, grab just behind your knees. Open your knees wider than your chest, and keep your ankles above your knees. Hold this position as a static stretch or slowly rock from side to side. Hold for 30 seconds.

Stretch #3. Child’s Pose 

Muscles stretched: this pose can help relieve pressure and tightness in your pelvic floor as well as your whole body by stretching your hip adductor muscles. 

Get down on the floor on all fours. Spread your knees wide and turn your toes inward. Slowly sit your hips back and down while bowing your upper body forward and down. Stretch your arms long on the floor in front of you and rest your forehead on the floor. Hold for 30 seconds.

Stretch #4. Reclined Cobbler Pose 

Muscles stretched: this yoga pose stretches your adductors — the muscles on your inner thighs, as well as your iliopsoas muscle, or your hip flexors. 

Lie flat on your back or reclined on a bolster or pillow. Place the soles of your feet together and spread your knees wide. If the stretch feels too intense, place pillows or rolled blankets under your knees for support. Hold for 30 seconds.

Bonus Tip for PFD: Diaphragmatic Breathing 

Diaphragmatic breathing can assist in relaxing your pelvic floor, and breathing through your diaphragm while doing pelvic floor stretches can make them more effective. 

To practice diaphragmatic breathing, follow the below steps: 

  1. Place one hand on your belly and one on your chest. 
  2. Inhale through your nose, taking care to ensure your belly is rising as you inhale. 
  3. Slowly exhale, taking care to ensure your belly falls and your core engages as you exhale. 

Throughout the breathing exercise, the hand on your chest should remain still. When you begin to practice this type of breathing, it’s usually easier to lie flat on your back. As you practice, you will be able to incorporate the breathing into your stretches. 

Relaxing a Tight Pelvic Floor 

Unfortunately for many people with IC, pelvic floor dysfunction is another unwelcome symptom. Learning to relax those tight muscles through stretches and breathing exercises can be a very effective form of treatment. 

If you’re looking to reduce the amount of medication you take to control symptoms of your IC, try practicing the above stretches daily. Additionally, talk to your healthcare provider and seek the help of a pelvic floor physical therapist to find additional relief.

If you or a loved one have developed pigmentary maculopathy or other ocular injuries after taking Elmiron, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Select Justice helps thousands of families just like you pursue justice by connecting them with experienced, compassionate attorneys who help them achieve the outcome they deserve. Don’t wait. Contact Select Justice today for a free, no-obligation consultation and begin your journey to justice.

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Women Who Used Elmiron® For Bladder Discomfort: Compensation May Be Possible!


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We are here to help you and loved ones advocate for justice. Feel free to send us any questions you might have, either about an injury or the process for pursuing justice so we can help you exercise your rights.

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