Have you heard of a pelvic floor PT? Do you crinkle your face up trying to imagine what in the world these professionals could possibly do all day? You're not alone.
More often than not, when I recommend pelvic floor PT for patients, I'm met with a somewhat stifled perplexed look, coated with a bit of apprehension. Over the past two to three years, I think enough people have experienced vast improvements in overall health due to the work they've done with their pelvic floor PT that the word is beginning to trickle through. But if you haven't yet heard, I'll give you a quick lowdown.
The pelvic floor is made up of a bowl of 28 muscles (14 on each side). And yep, male bodied people also have pelvic floors. But since I work in gynecology, I'm going to focus this on people with vaginas.
First, what issues might signify a pelvic floor dysfunction?
Let's talk bladder and bowel issues such as leaking, retention, frequency and urgency, but also include pelvic pain, pain with penetrative sex and pain with or after orgasm.
Once we determine that the pelvic floor is involved, after a thorough history and pelvic examination (if possible), we then bring a trained pelvic floor PT on board to create a collaborative approach to your care. These are professionals who have received all the "normal" physical therapy training, along with additional training specifically regarding the pelvic floor. They will help you develop a comfort level with both internal and external work to help downregulate muscles that are stuck in spasm. Sometimes, that includes both sides, while sometimes it's only one side or the other.
But here's the tricky part: Just because the muscles come down during a session, doesn't mean they stay downregulated. So you'll also work together on implementing certain breathing and postural techniques throughout your day to retrain your brain and body as to what you would like its new normal to be. You'll develop a brain/body (or more specifically, a brain/pelvic floor) connection.
Here's the thing: Everyone is experiencing a multitude of new stressors over this past year.
And while many may hold stress in their shoulders and neck, many others hold stress in their pelvic floors. You know how your neck feels when you're stressed? Now translate that to your pelvis. Yow! Now, imagine using your normal deep breathing techniques and stretches to alleviate that neck pain. Can you deep breathe and stretch your pelvic floor? Actually, yes you can! Your pelvic floor PT will teach you how!
Learn more at Women's Health Collective.
Written by Nisha McKenzie PA-C, CSC, NCMP, IF, Founder of Women's Health Collective.
Courtesy of Women's Health Collective.