Tension can get stored in the body due to a physical, mental or emotional stressor.
Mental and emotional stress:
Your body has a memory of its own. Going through life, we all experience things like failure, disappointments, fear, suffering, sudden loss of a loved one, illnesses or accidents. All these experiences, when not expressed or released properly at the moment they occur, or very soon after, can get stored in the body.
The body literally braces itself; it tenses up to be prepared for the (mental) blow. A lot of this is reflected in our everyday language: “I braced myself”, “I held my breath”, “I’m hanging in there”, “pushing through” etc. All this tension, worry, fear, and anxiety eventually lead to tense muscles and restricted fascia; over time, the body becomes less and less flexible; as does the mind. When under a lot of stress, mental flexibility also suffers.
Physical stress can develop due to heavy physical activity, wrong posture, pregnancy, giving birth, surgery or repetitive movements that are strenuous to the body. This kind of stress affects the muscles and fascia of the pelvic floor. Fascia can get restricted with stiffness, aches and pains as a result.
Pelvic floor muscles: sometimes the muscles of the pelvic floor have become hypertonic (too tight) which causes problems like chronic pelvic pain, numbness or pain during intercourse or vaginismus. Unexplained chronic lower back/hip pain and/or constipation problems could be due to a hypertonic pelvic floor. Other women have a hypotonic pelvic floor (too weak) that can contribute to problems like stress incontinence or organ prolapse. Most women, however, have a combination of both.
Fascia: The fascia is connected to the muscles in the pelvic area. It is an interwoven system of fibrous connective tissue that is found throughout the body. Fascia provides a framework that helps support and protects the entire body as a unit, as well as serving a role in the immune system. In the normal healthy state, the fascia is relaxed and wavy in configuration. It has the ability to stretch and move without restriction. But the fascia can become tight or restricted due to stress. When the fascia is restricted, it will pull on the muscles and cause trigger points in the muscle tissue. This can also cause problems like an uneasy, tight feeling in the pelvic area, pain during sex, feelings of disconnection from the pelvis, painful cramps during menstruation or orgasms that are experienced as being painful.
Sexual harassment or abuse:
Unfortunately, sexual harassment still happens all too often. It can be at home or in the outside world, during childhood or later in life. All these traumatic experiences become locked in the body. Trauma of this kind is mostly stored in the pelvic area. This kind of wounding often leads to difficulty in setting healthy boundaries in all aspects of life and often problems with relationships. Also, this pain and trauma can have a devastating effect on the general wellbeing and the whole experience of life.
“Your body is your subconscious mind” -Candice Pert-
More and more, we are finding evidence that everything is interconnected. Our cells, our tissues, organs; all work as one mechanism. Dr Candice Pert, a neuroscientist and pharmacologist, discovered that our glands, organs, tissues and cells are storage places for emotions and memory.
She claims that your body is your subconscious mind. In her studies, she found evidence that explained the strong body-mind connection and that emotions have a direct effect on our well-being. For more background information, you can check out her book: “Molecules of Emotion”.
So, all in all, as we move through life, stress tends to build up in our system. Luckily as humans, we are a very adaptable species. We learn to live with all these issues and try to live our life around these problems, making the most out of every situation.
When things become too much, and we start looking for help, it is important to remember that (as Candice shows with her studies) ‘the issue is in the tissue’. Through bodywork, old traumas can be resolved on a cellular level, resulting in a more free and flowing life. This means that all therapy that addresses the mental/emotional as well as the physical aspect, like IPT, is very effective.