Updated: Mar 9
What is Pelvic Floor Therapy and What’s it all about?
We’ve all used google maps, right?! After googling certain locations once or twice google immediately knows where you are going. For example, if you want to go to "Chick-Fil-A" by your home you traditionally know exactly how to get there without a google search. Google knows how to search for locations quickly without much thought.
It is fully oriented to exactly what you mean better than you are sometimes. Stay with me… I’ll connect the dots very soon.
The brain is basically your body’s google maps. Each area/region in the brain has a road map responsible for some function within your body. From the sensation of something crawling on you to raising your arm to reach for your favorite coffee cup in the morning, there is a road map for EVERY single function connecting the brain. As human’s we a more connected to certain regions of our bodies than other areas.
Let’s do a little experiment!
Bend your elbow up, now straighten your elbow. If I asked you to pick up a cup and hold it in your hand, then bring the cup to your lips and take a sip would you know how to do it? On a scale 1 to 10 in difficulty, that was probably rather easy for most people without any challenges with their hands.
Now, let’s do a similar experiment with your pelvic floor muscles:
Lift them up--> let them go --> lift them up again and hold them up for 10 seconds --> then let them go --> hold them up and cough.
Chances are this took quite a bit more effort and likely some thought. You are probably not even sure if you did that right.
Awareness is key!
Your awareness of your arm is far brighter than the image of our pelvic floor in your bodies “google map” the brain. Having this lack of awareness of your pelvic floor coupled with having challenges such as peeing every time you cough or sneeze, trying to poop for days without success, constant burning sensations on the vulva (female genitalia) or testicles can make it difficult to navigate managing these symptoms.
If you ask your doctor for a treatment, the options are typically limited to surgery or medicinal management. This can be disappointing for those who would prefer conservative treatments first.
The good new is, there is a conservative treatment option that can build your bodies awareness of the google map to the pelvis. Learning how to manage this system can bring true healing return to doing the things you love to do. That treatment is Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy.
How do these issues present?
I typically say
“pelvic floor therapy is the therapy you never knew existed for the symptoms you never explain.”
Pelvic floor therapy is a skilled therapy provided traditionally by physical and occupational therapists to improve the function of the organs within the pelvis. Dysfunction can present with bladder leaks, bowel leaks, pelvic pain with or without intercourse. "One in 4 women and 16% of men suffer from pelvic dysfunction."
How does Pelvic Floor Therapy help?
Your therapist would look at the systems that impact movement in your pelvic floor. Your breathing technique, the strength and coordination of the abdominal and pelvic floor muscles. This is done both visually and physically with CONSENT from the individual. Your therapist may ask you to perform various tasks such as bearing down, coughing, looking at the tightness or restrictions in your abdomen, pelvis or legs that may be contributing to your challenges.
People who are pregnant can also see pelvic floor physical therapy for birth preparation. People may see a pelvic floor therapist birthing trauma such as vaginal tearing, pelvic organ prolapse, or C-Section scaring.
In some cases, pelvic floor therapy may be recommended after trauma after an injury such a pelvic fracture or tailbone pain.
A therapist would curate a plan for strengthening, stretching, releasing tension, or coordinate your breath. Stabilizing muscles groups in the abdomen (specifically transverse abdominal muscles) and your pelvic floor may be necessary so that the challenges you are experiencing can be minimized or improved all together.
It’s all connected!
The pelvic structures act is like the trampoline. The frame of the trampoline is like the pelvic bones. The springs attach to the metal frame to mesh center are like the Transverse abdominal muscles in the abdomen, and the mesh center of the trampoline is like the pelvic floor muscles.
It's all about the Brain Body Connection
When it comes to the pelvic floor muscles, it is connected to multiple systems within your body. Your respiratory system (lungs/diaphragm), your musculoskeletal system (muscles and connective tissue), your nervous system (sensory, pain, fight or flight, relaxation) and your bodies “google map” the Brain. Your breath is the foundation to have the whole system coordinate. Check out this blog post on Pelvic floor basics part four— breathing, you’re doing it wrong | The Pelvic Hub on breathing and how impacts the entire abdominal cannister.
Awareness is key to improving this system. Whether there is specific symptom you are experiencing or you want to be more in-tuned to prevent future issues, pelvic floor therapy is fantastic option for managing pelvic dysfunction and prevention for EVERYONE.
How do I find a therapist?
Pelvic floor therapy is primarily treated by physical therapist in the U.S. The American Physical Therapy Association’s Academy of Pelvic Health has a Physical Therapist Locator – APTA Pelvic Health. Pelvic Rehab, which is a site on pelvic rehabilitation resources by Hermann and Wallace which provides substantial amount of continued training for physical and occupational therapist. For an international list of pelvic floor therapy list, the “Vagina Rehab Doctor” Dr. Janelle Howell created a WOC PFPT Directory of Pelvic Floor Therapist in the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean’s who are women of color. You can also talk to your primary providers, gynecologist, and obstetricians are a great place to look as well. If you are looking for a non-medicinal, non-surgical starting place, Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy is the perfect starting point.