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What Is Pelvic Floor Therapy?

Image of person holding their stomach as it relates to pelvic dysfunction and pelvic floor therapy.

Interested in learning more about Pelvic Therapy and how it can benefit your health? Check out this informative interview with our new Abdominal/Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist, Natalie Dereka, PT.

What Is Normal and What Is Not When It Comes to Your Pelvic Floor?

Many women think it’s normal to leak only while laughing, jumping, or sneezing.  Others believe their urgency and frequency are contributed to a small bladder or drinking too many fluids.  What about the rumor that holding your bladder is unhealthy and you should go right away to avoid infection?

I hope to give you more clarity on what is in fact normal, what is not, and information on how to get rid of these issues for good and prevent them from worsening with time.

What Is Pelvic Floor Therapy?

Pelvic therapy is a type of physical therapy that works on muscles, just like any other muscles in the body, except these muscles, are less talked about, unseen, and many times are forgotten.  However, like any other muscle, our pelvic floor muscles are just as important to stretch and strengthen and can lead to injury or other problems if they are not properly functioning.¹  Depending on the patient’s needs, Pelvic Physical Therapy may provide exercises to improve pelvic floor muscle strength, endurance, coordination, and stretching.²  Manual therapy may be utilized to improve pain, digestion, and proper function of the pelvic floor. 

Patients will be taught good body mechanics that will help keep their pelvic floor in a healthy resting state when appropriate as well as an active state when necessary. We may also find and address ‘triggers’ that could be contributing to the problem including diet, posture, breathing, or poor bowel/bladder habits.

Image of a woman who may benefit from pelvic floor therapy, laying on the couch suffering from pelvic floor dysfunction.

What Are Some Pelvic Floor Dysfunctions and How Do They Occur?

Our pelvic floor muscles aid in bowel, bladder, and sexual function as well as help support and hold up our organs.  When these muscles are too tight, too weak, injured, or have undergone trauma of any kind (including surgery and/or childbirth), underlying problems can occur.  Being stressed, tense, or having a hectic schedule can also lead to Pelvic Floor Dysfunction.  Some of these pelvic floor dysfunctions and pelvic floor dysfunction symptoms include:

  • Urinary urgency and frequency
  • Urinary incontinence (including stress incontinence and urge incontinence)³,⁴
  • Nocturia⁵
  • Constipation, diarrhea, or both⁶
  • Inability to hold in gas, belching, or rumination
  • Pelvic pain
  • Pain with intercourse
  • Prolapse
  • Diastasis recti
  • Painful scarring
  • Coccyx pain
  • Pudendal Neuralgia
Image of a woman looking down, considering what is normal as it relates to pelvic floor therapy.

So What Is Normal?

While accidental leaking is common, it is not normal and should not happen.  Not even while doing CrossFit or sneezing ten times in a row.  Leaking a little is a precursor that your pelvic floor muscles may need attention to avoid further problems down the road.  Leaking does not necessarily mean your muscles are weak and that you need to do Kegels.⁷ In fact, a lot of times it means that your muscles are too guarded and Kegels alone can worsen the issue.  In pelvic therapy, we discover what your baseline is and treat what is specifically needed for your body.

In addition, if you know you should not order a beverage because you will be getting up during the movie, your bladder isn’t necessarily small. Instead, you may have developed a bad habit of training your bladder to go more than necessary.  Over time this can make for an unhealthy bladder.  We will teach you what is normal along the lines of holding your bladder. 

We will also figure out what is causing you to go more than normal and address the problem.  This may be done by retraining your bladder and pelvic floor muscles in specific ways to be able to hold it longer. Manual therapy techniques may also be performed to relax overly tight muscles that may be causing your urge.  Going to the bathroom too often can disrupt daily plans, quality of life, and can cause greater problems down the road if left untreated.

Image of The Center for Fully Functional® Health treatment room.

What To Expect at Your Visit

On your initial evaluation, we will go over your history and complaints that you are experiencing.  Depending on what you are coming in for, there may be an external and internal assessment of your muscle strength, coordination, and resting tone.  Your pelvic therapy treatments may include mobilization of your abdominal cavity to help aid in proper function.  It may also include hands-on manual therapy, myofascial release, colonic massage, abdominal manual lymph drainage, visceral mobilization, pelvic floor neuromuscular facilitation & reeducation, fascial decompression, and an individualized Home Exercise Programs.⁸

Depending on your need, you may be introduced to:

  • Bowel & bladder health regimen
  • Toileting and breathing techniques
  • Self-techniques to help aid in detoxification
  • Strategies to improve bowel movements and avoid straining and hemorrhoids
  • Individualized exercise plan to properly stretch and strengthen your pelvic floor muscles as well as surrounding muscles
  • Abdominal (core) muscle strengthening
  • Bowel/bladder diet
  • Awareness of body mechanics and postural correction to improve your pelvic floor muscle resting and active state as well as organ health.

Our pelvic floor issues can worsen and lead to more issues down the road if not addressed.   Our mission is to have you walk away with lifelong tools to keep your pelvic floor in tip-top shape and improve your quality of life.

You can book an appointment by clicking here. We are also happy to speak with you at (317) 989-8463, Monday-Thursday, from 8AM – 5PM Eastern time.

Sources:
1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2617789/
2 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4024111/
3 https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/stress-incontinence/symptoms-causes/syc-20355727
4 https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/urinary-incontinence/symptoms-causes/syc-20352808
5 https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/frequent-urination/basics/definition/sym-20050712
6 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4775771/
7 https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Kegel%20exercises
8 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3492521/

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The Center for Fully Functional Health® is led by a team of award-winning, internationally recognized physicians, committed to providing personalized, life-changing care.

40 North Rangeline Rd. Carmel, IN 46032