This is a re-post from a piece I wrote on the Home Collective website, the 'physical home' of my 1-1 physical therapy practice. As I was the first pelvic health physical therapist to join their collective this past fall, I wrote a piece to introduce their community to my work. I am sharing it here as a way to introduce, or re-introduce, the broader community to the importance of pelvic health physical therapy in the community. Enjoy!
What is Pelvic Health Physical Therapy?
More commonly known as 'pelvic floor' physical therapy, pelvic health physical therapy is physical therapy for the muscles, connective tissues, and organs of the abdominal and pelvic spaces.
Pelvic health physical therapists are specially trained to perform assessments and treatments specific to the abdominal and pelvic spaces of the body in order to help release tight muscles, scars, and other tissues, and retrain muscles, coordination, and balance in the pelvic areas.
While the focus is on the pelvis, this type of physical therapy still uses a whole-body approach in understanding how the challenges expressed in the pelvic may affect and be affected by other areas of the body, such as the breath, arms, legs, feet, neck, and head – Really, anything in the body can be affected by anything else! Therefore the
assessment will also look at how you walk, squat, stand, sit, engage movements in activities you love, and breathe, among others.
Specialized training allows pelvic health physical therapists to provide the patient with individualized assessments and interventions, often including an internal pelvic exam (vaginal or rectal, depending on patient need and practitioner training, but sometimes neither*). While this may feel invasive or off-putting to some, the internal pelvic exam, when performed by a trained physical therapist, provides invaluable input to the treatment plan for an individual patient. This exam is considered the gold standard in pelvic health physical therapy for understanding how the pelvic floor muscles are functioning and how the organs such as the bladder, uterus/ cervix, and rectum are positioned in the pelvic space, which can often contribute to abdominal and pelvic challenges. *Note that this exam, while recommended and helpful, is not required to work on addressing a pelvic health challenge if an individual feels uncomfortable with it.
Conditions often addressed with pelvic health physical therapy include: bladder leaking or incontinence at all ages, pelvic pain, painful periods, prolapsed organs, painful bladder syndrome/ interstitial cystitis, post-surgical scars on the abdomen or pelvis, pre- or post-hysterectomy care, digestive challenges, and bowel sphincter dysfunction, to name a few. Post-partum pelvic physical therapy is also important to the healing mother’s journey by addressing pelvic floor weakness, diastasis rectus abdominis (DRA)/separated abdominals, prolapse, bladder leaking, pain with intercourse, constipation, and low back/ SI joint pain, as well as supporting women with a safe progression of returning to the physical activities they love.
Treatments to address issues above often include gentle manual therapy (internal and/or external), coaching, education, movement practice and prescription, breath work, pelvic floor exercises and/ or relaxation, and the use of tools such as vaginal dilators.
While Beth Anne does not treat those who identify as male with male anatomy in her practice, it is important to know that these individuals can also benefit from pelvic health physical therapy for conditions such as constipation, urinary issues, painful or premature ejaculation, pelvic pain, or post-prostatectomy-related challenges. Beth Anne is happy to provide a referral if this is your situation.
If you want to learn if pelvic health might be able to support your healing journey, contact me at email@example.com to schedule a free 20-minute phone consult, or check out this directory to find a pelvic health practitioner near you: https://pelvicguru.com/directory/