Yoga is a form of exercise that utilizes movement for strength and flexibility, along with breathwork and mindfulness for reduction of stress and tension. Yoga has long been used therapeutically for a variety of neuromuscular, immunological, psychological, and pain disorders. It has also been linked to improvements in body awareness, improved cognition, flexibility and strength, as well as physiology (reducing stress hormones, improving cardiac function) (Schmalzl et al, 2015).
Chronic prostatitis, nonbacterial prostatitis, and chronic pelvic pain are all related conditions which negatively affect quality of life for the men who suffer from them. Symptoms vary, but are often described as a “headache in the pelvis” with pain symptoms affecting urinary and sexual function. The pain is real and their negative affects on quality of life are real as well. The pain caused by nonbacterial prostatitis can be disabling, preventing participation in valued activities and causing isolation and depression.
According to Harvard Medical School, prostatitis accounts for about 1.8 million visits to the doctor’s office in the United States each year. Between 9% to 16% of men of all ages experience prostatitis. About 90% of these instances cannot be tied to an active bacterial infection. Prostatitis affects men of all ages, unlike benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and prostate cancer, which predominantly affect older men.
Yoga can help both strengthen and increase flexibility of the pelvic floor muscles and surrounding musculature to better function and treat issues such as pain with urination, pain with ejaculation, and pain with bowel movements.
Research has shown to be a viable tool in chronic pain management. Yoga practice has been tied to a decrease in pain in practitioners. Gupta et al. suggested that yoga therapy is part of an ideal model of care for interstitial cystitis/painful bladder sydrome. The symptoms of IC and painful bladder syndrome are similar to that of prostatitis, and men tend to be diagnosed with the latter, despite them sharing similar musculoskeletal findings in the pelvic floor muscles.
An article in the Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation recommends yoga as an intervention for pelvic floor dysfunction and pelvic pain (Chung, K. J., Han, A. N. Y., & Kim, K. H. (2015).
As a pelvic floor therapists and a registered yoga teachers, we have seen the power of gentle yoga poses to help stretch and lengthen the muscles and tissues in the abdomen, pelvis, low back, and hips during painful flareups and the reduction of pain over time.
What you will need:
It is found that those with chronic pain often often present in our office with short and shallow breathing. This type of breathing adds tension to the diaphragm, abdomen, and pelvic floor. Relearning how to breath deeply is a profound way to start unraveling the tension inside the body. This tension is often held in the space between the ribs, neck, shoulders, low back, belly and pelvic floor. Studies also show that diaphragmatic breathing can help the body break the pain cycle, thereby reducing pain and chronic pain (Roditi & Robinson, 2011).
Deep breathing can be practiced anywhere: while stuck in a traffic jam, waiting in line at the grocery store, or at night before you go to bed. The importance of breathing is so important, Apple includes it as an App on the Apple Watch, and other great breathing apps are becoming more and more popular in the App Store (we like Breathing Zone). To help improve rib mobility and reduce pain in the areas listed above, try this:
*Anderson RU, Wise D, Sawyer T, Chan C. (2005). Integration of Myofascial Trigger Point Release and Paradoxical Relaxation Training Treatment of Chronic Pelvic Pain in Men. Journal of Urology;174:155–60. PMID: 15947608.
*FitzGerald MP, Anderson RU, Potts J, et al. (2009). Randomized Multicenter Feasibility Trial of Myofascial Physical Therapy for the Treatment of Urological Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndromes. Journal of Urology;182:570–80. PMID: 19535099.
*O’Leary, M. (2011).Treating prostatitis: Any cause for optimism?. Harvard Medical School Health Publications: Prostate Knowledge. Accessed at: https://www.harvardprostateknowledge.org/treating-prostatitis-any-cause-for-optimism
*Chung, K. J., Han, A. N. Y., & Kim, K. H. (2015). Recommendations to the primary care practitioners and the patients for managing pelvic pain, especially in painful bladder syndrome for early and better prognosis.Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation, 11(5), 251–254. https://doi.org/10.12965/jer.150226
*Curtis, K., Weinrib, A., & Katz, J. (2012). Systematic Review of Yoga for Pregnant Women: Current Status and Future Directions. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : eCAM, 2012, 715942.https://doi.org/10.1155/2012/715942
*Gupta, P., Gaines, N., Sirls, L. T., & Peters, K. M. (2015). A multidisciplinary approach to the evaluation and management of interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome: an ideal model of care. Translational Andrology and Urology, 4(6), 611–619. https://doi.org/10.3978/j.issn.2223-4683.2015.10.10
Huang, A. J., Jenny, H. E., Chesney, M. A., Schembri, M., & Subak, L. L. (2014). A Group-Based Yoga Therapy Intervention for Urinary Incontinence in Women: A Pilot Randomized Trial. Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgery, 20(3), 147–154.https://doi.org/10.1097/SPV.0000000000000072
Schmalzl, L., Powers, C., & Henje Blom, E. (2015). Neurophysiological and neurocognitive mechanisms underlying the effects of yoga-based practices: towards a comprehensive theoretical framework. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 9, 235.https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2015.00235
**This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor.