What is Pelvic Floor Therapy?
Entering The World of Pelvic Health
In April of 2020 I was feeling run-down, isolated, uninspired, and frankly bored. It was near month two of quarantine after the pandemic hit. My job duties as an outpatient physical therapist had changed dramatically, I was home with my two young children, and honestly feeling just blah. With a bit of extra free time on my hands I decided to take the leap into social media and begin my blog Moving Like A Mother. My content focuses on helping woman stay active and pain-free while pregnant, postpartum, and any point in their motherhood journey.
After starting my blog and connecting with my followers I quickly realized that there was a HUGE lack of knowledge about the general public knew about the pregnant and postpartum body. It was around November of 2020 that I realized I had a PASSION for helping mothers learn more about their bodies and help them in appropriate healing. I currently had my Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree but began furthering my education to become a specialized pelvic floor physical therapist.
I have now been practicing pelvic floor therapy for nearly 8 months and am loving every. single. minute. But I have discovered many woman are unsure about what exactly pelvic floor therapy is. So I created a simple FAQ about pelvic floor therapy to share with any mamas who may be wondering "What is Pelvic Floor Therapy?", "Do I need pelvic floor therapy?", "How do I get pelvic floor therapy?".
Hopefully this post can help answer many of those common questions.
Pelvic Floor Therapy FAQ
What is your pelvic floor?
Your pelvic floor is a group of muscles located in your pelvis. These muscles are like a bowl between your hips and run from your pubic bone to your tailbone. They support your bladder, bowel, and uterus (if you have one). This group of pelvic floor muscles make up the base of your core. Along with the low back muscles, abdominal muscles, and diaphragm these muscles aid in stabilizing your spine and help regulate your internal pressure system.
Do men have pelvic floors?
Yep. All humans have pelvic floor muscles. The number, names, and layout of these muscles may be different depending on your gender assigned at birth.
What is pelvic floor therapy?
Pelvic floor therapy is performed by a specially trained physical or occupational therapist to help identify and treat problems with your pelvic floor muscles. Pelvic floor therapy is done in a professional and private rehabilitation setting. The therapist works closely with you and your doctor to address your specific complaints. Common issues related to the pelvic floor include low back pain, hip pain, urinary incontinence (leakage), urinary urge (frequent urination), constipation, pelvic pain, and pain with intercourse.
How can pelvic floor therapy help me?
Just like the muscles that surround your knee or your shoulder the pelvic floor muscles can become too tight, too weak, in spasm or full of scar tissue. A pelvic floor therapist will assess the health and function of these specific muscles. Often it can become difficult to appropriately contract or relax the pelvic floor muscles. This can lead to some of the problems listed above. Your therapist will look at your body as a whole and identify which pelvic floor or surrounding muscles need to be stretched or strengthened. They will then provide education and design an individualized treatment plan to help with your specific problem/s.
Do I have to take my pants off?
Not necessarily. The pelvic floor therapist will meet you at your comfort level. While the therapist will be able to gain the most accurate information in regards to your pelvic floor function through an internal examination, it is not required. Pelvic floor therapy usually starts with verbal information gathering and an external musculoskeletal assessment. An internal evaluation will be done when you feel ready.
Is pelvic floor therapy simply doing a bunch of kegels?
Nope. While a kegel is a common strengthening exercise for the pelvic floor muscles not all women need to do kegels. Not to mention 30% of women perform a kegel incorrectly. Some women are tight in their pelvic floor muscles, some are weak, and some are both. Pelvic floor therapy can include manual techniques, strengthening exercises, biofeedback, posture training, education, special stretching, and more.
Isn’t pelvic floor therapy just for old ladies or women who have had babies?
Nope. Many people can have problems with their pelvic floor muscles who are young and/or never given birth. As previously mentioned the pelvic floor is a group of muscles. And just like any other muscle group these muscles may become tight or weak depending on our postures, activity level, and other factors. Women who have given birth are more susceptible to pelvic floor dysfunction due to the changing body and birthing experience. Pelvic pain or leaking urine (even a little bit) indicates an issue with the pelvic floor function. Similarly, with age women or men can experience more pelvic floor muscle issues due to normal tissue and activity changes with age.
How can I get pelvic floor therapy?
It depends on where you live. Many states are direct access and you may be able to seek pelvic floor therapy straight from the source. Head to pelvicrehab.com to find a therapist near you. Or speak to your doctor about obtaining an order for pelvic floor physical therapy. Any concern is a valid concern. Your therapist is happy to work with you and your specific complaints.
Social media has been an amazing tool to help spread knowledge about pelvic floor therapy. It is my belief that all women should be entitled to at least an assessment by a pelvic floor physical therapist child birth. In France it is common practice that every woman receives at least 6 visits from a pelvic floor physical therapist after having a baby. Perhaps one day that will also the case in the U.S. For now I hope to spread the word and encourage all women to be an advocate for their health and wellness. Feel free to reach out with any questions you have about pelvic health or pelvic floor therapy.
Monica (Moving Like A Mother)