What is pelvic floor physical therapy? It’s a subspecialty of orthopedics that focuses on the control, strength, tone, tenderness, endurance, and coordination of the pelvic floor muscles. Commonly injured in childbirth, pelvic floor muscles can also be inured by falls, accidents, or trauma. Men can also have pelvic floor issues.
Why do these muscles matter? Your pelvic floor is in charge of so many things! Besides what you’d expect in the bathroom, these muscles affect sex, support your organs, and stabilize your pelvis. An evaluation with a pelvic floor therapist is similar to any other appointment at an outpatient clinic—we look at movement, strength, posture, alignment, breathing, and range of motion, and we check for functional things like how you squat, balance, bend, reach, and breathe.
Pelvic floor physical therapy can help with back pain, pelvic pain, abdominal pain, diastasis recti, sciatica, pelvic girdle pain, pubic symphysis pain or dysfunction, and incontinence (leaking pee or poop). Remember, leaking of any kind is a problem to be addressed. Don’t settle for it to be “your new normal.” Statistically speaking, up to 50% of us have a prolapse, 33% have incontinence and 34% have a diastasis up to a year after delivery! In other words, you are not alone.
During pregnancy, our bodies change dramatically. With the growth of the baby, the ribs expand, and the pelvis changes shape; the spine can change alignment, and muscles are constantly under load. Then, all of a sudden, a baby comes out, and everything is expected to move like before, except that it all has stretched and now is slightly recoiled. And listen, though C-sections lower the chances of prolapse, pelvic floor issues can still happen!
In my years of experience as a pelvic health expert, I’ve found that if we address the little issues early on (alignment, strength, strategies with lifting) so much can be prevented within the first year and definitely throughout our lifetime. Most often, we hold off until the six-week check up to start therapy. However, I recommend starting as early as possible for the best results. We can help with that! Under our care, you will be taught gentle movements that help the pelvic floor heal, just as if you visited a therapist for a knee surgery or ankle injury. The sooner we get the body moving, the better. Learning to turn on the deep core can help reduce pressure on the pelvic floor. We can even help with the pain of sleeping in weird positions with a new baby. The better you sleep, move, and function—the better you will feel!
With a little guidance, gentle and targeted movements, and time, you will have a new normal.
What you just read is true. Here’s the myth: you will just “bounce back.” It’s not that easy. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do what you always wanted—you just may need to do it a little differently. It is a continuum of healing and strengthening. We all have different variables like tearing, prior pregnancies, pain, hormones, nursing, ability to strengthen during or before pregnancy, and genetics. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but there is a solution!
Pelvic floor PTs are a passionate bunch and super motivated to help you recover faster, better, and not endure the things our parents and grandparents have had to go through because they lived in silence or embarrassment. You are valuable. Your body is strong, capable, adaptable, and resilient. Find out for yourself by booking your pelvic floor appointment today.
Dr Kelly Ehlert is the Owner of Priority Physical Therapy, in Mount Juliet TN.