Let’s talk about your health!
Listen up, ladies! It’s time to talk about all of the things your mom, your girlfriends, your OBs, your PCPs…you catch my drift…haven’t told you about the pelvic floor.
This region of the body seems to remain taboo and masked in confusion and mystery. However, as women, we would benefit from some simple schooling surrounding the pelvic floor and, more specifically, pelvic health.
It’s likely you’ve heard the phrase pelvic floor and most certainly Kegels, or actively engaging the pelvic floor. I’d argue that for most women, their knowledge base stops there.
There’s Therapy For That!
Sara in action
That’s right, pelvic health physical therapy. As a physical therapist, I assess and treat the musculoskeletal system. As a specially trained pelvic health physical therapist, I work in the pelvic area, specifically with the pelvic floor and other associated muscles. When appropriate, these muscles are accessed through the vagina and/or anus using proper draping and sanitary measures, gloves, and lubrication. Muscle length, tone, and function are assessed as it relates to your symptoms/concerns. I also evaluate and treat external muscles throughout the core complex, including tissue mobility, nerve function and mobility, muscle length and function, postural considerations, and spinal/hip/pelvic girdle mobility. I look at the body as a whole; the pelvic floor is just one small piece to the complex puzzle.
They’re Just Like Any Other Muscle Group In Your Body.
Your pelvic floor needs love too!
All skeletal muscles can contract and relax as well as shorten and lengthen. They can feel supple and healthy or taut and ropy. What’s more, they can have pain-inducing tender points and knots. The pelvic floor is no exception. Not only is a healthy pelvic floor flexible, compliant, and strong, but it also works synchronously with neighboring muscles. When framed in this manner, it tends to take the mystery away from this intricate region of the body.
Things Can Go Awry Down There.
Sara changing lives
It’s not always connected to pregnancy and delivery, though. I treat women, men, and children of all ages, from 9 to 95. Hey, we all have pelvic floors! When there are concerns, it’s generally considered pelvic floor dysfunction which refers to any issue that causes the pelvic floor to not work properly. Common symptoms include: pelvic/vaginal/perineal pain, urinary leakage, constipation, painful sex, pelvic organ prolapse, urinary urgency and frequency, separation of abdominal muscles, and tailbone/hip/back pain, just to name a few. Roughly 1 in 3 women will experience some sort of pelvic floor dysfunction in their lifetime; if not addressed, it may progressively worsen. Pelvic health physical therapy can mitigate and reduce symptoms as well as prevent worsening of symptoms as you age.
Pelvic Health Physical Therapy Isn’t Just For Postpartum Women.
Lift them hips!
In fact, I highly encourage women who are considering becoming pregnant or who are already pregnant to meet with a pelvic health physical therapist. In order to classify something as dysfunctional or abnormal, we have to know more about our normal. In other words, we need to know more about our bodies prior to pregnancy. How much are your abs separated? What does your vulva look like? How strong and coordinated are your pelvic floor muscles? Let’s get that baseline information and dampen these unrealistic expectations, all while improving postpartum self-image.
Kegels Are Not For Everyone.
The advice to Kegel is very dated; yet, it’s still a recommendation offered to a lot of women. I’m here to tell you, at least anecdotally, that most women need to practice the Reverse Kegel instead. Kegeling your brains out at a stop light, or even in bed with your Elvie, may be ineffective and/or actively exacerbate the issue. Generally, Kegel exercises should only form a small part of a grander scheme to ensure pelvic health.
I’ll leave you with a challenge…to strive for a healthy and functional pelvic floor because it’s essential to your wellbeing. Consider meeting with a pelvic health physical therapist to assist you in your journey. Whether you’re a newlywed thinking about starting a family, a busy mom of 4, or even a grandmother looking to travel the world, achieving and maintaining a healthy pelvic floor will help you do the things you want and need to do.
Author: Sara Black is the owner of Zia Physio, an in-home, pelvic health physical therapy and wellness company, Sara helps women of all ages reach their personal goals!
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