What is Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy?

Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy is a hot topic in the health and fitness space. Though this type of physical therapy has been around for quite some time, women are now understanding the importance of strengthening their pelvic floor especially before / after childbirth. 

What is Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy?

This specialized form of physical therapy focuses on strengthening or rehabilitating the muscles around your pelvic floor after pelvic floor dysfunction. The pelvic floor is the group of muscles in both men and women that help support the urinary tract and reproductive organs. In women, the muscles in the pelvic floor help keep the vagina and rectum in place while holding the uterus on top of the pelvic floor. In men, the pelvic floor helps keep the bowels, bladder, urethra, and rectum in place.

Pelvic Floor Dysfunction 

Pelvic floor dysfunction refers to difficulty relaxing your pelvic floor muscles, which causes issues with bowel movements, urination, or other reproductive muscle issues.

Symptoms of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

What Causes Pelvic Floor Dysfunction?

The recent discussion around pelvic floor dysfunction is often referring to women who plan to or have recently given birth. Though this can definitely cause pelvic floor issues, there are many different causes for pelvic floor dysfunction that are not always easy to pinpoint. 

Known Causes of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction:

Treatments for Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

Physical therapy is one of the most common types of treatment for pelvic floor dysfunction. There are several forms of physical therapy that can be used to help strengthen and coordinate the pelvic floor muscles. 

Common Exercises for Pelvic Floor

Kegel Exercises: Tighten the pelvic floor muscles (think the muscles you use to hold in a pee) squeeze and hold for as long as you can (up to 10 seconds) and release. You can do this throughout the day to help strengthen the pelvic floor.

Pelvic Brace: On all fours (wrists under shoulders and knees under hips) draw your belly button back towards your spine and up in between your ribs. Hold for three seconds, then release. Do this twice then repeat this exercise for up to 8 sets.

Pelvic Tilt: Sitting on an exercise ball, sit with your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart. Sit up straight and place your hands on your waist. Slowly begin to tuck and untuck the pelvis by first drawing hip bones toward the bottom ribs and then sticking your butt about behind you.

Squats: Squats are a great exercise to strengthen your glutes, quads, and hamstrings, but can also be good for strengthening your pelvic floor. 

Tip: Make sure not to go past a 90-degree angle when performing your squats.

Why is a Strong Pelvic Floor Important?

Your pelvic floor controls some of the most important functions in the body from reproductive organs to your bladder. As we age incontinence becomes a problem many have to face, so keeping your pelvic floor strong can help prevent these types of unwanted issues from happening. For women, knowing how to strengthen their pelvic floor can be a very important tool before and after childbirth.

When to See a Doctor for Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

We recommend seeing a doctor if you have any of the symptoms mentioned above such as loss of bladder control, pain during intercourse, etc. A doctor will be able to pinpoint if these issues are pelvic floor related and will most likely refer you to a pelvic floor specialist. 

Author
Cassie Whittaker Cassie is the Communications Coordinator for Elite Sports Medicine + Orthopedics. She has been writing and reviewing medical content since 2020. https://www.linkedin.com/in/cassie-whittaker-802a3b173

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