So what got you into pelvic floor PT? This is a question that I get asked fairly often by clients as they get to know me. Honestly, I never envisioned myself as a pelvic floor PT and in fact, earlier in my career it was an area of PT that I had written off for myself without knowing much about it. But it’s funny how life works and how suddenly the thing I was sure I would never do became one of the things I am most passionate about.
A combination of life events, witnessing first-hand the vast gaps in women’s pelvic healthcare, and ignorant marketing commercials all fed into this little flame of passion within me that I can only describe as a call. A definite calling that even though I didn’t know much about pelvic floor PT, and no matter how much easier it would be to stay in my comfort zone, I needed to do everything I could to learn more and to let women know that they are not alone, they should not feel ashamed, and there IS help.
This is the wrapper from a Dove chocolate that I snagged when I was taking my first Herman and Wallace continuing education course to be trained to perform internal pelvic floor muscle evaluations and treat women with pelvic floor conditions. I knew I was in the exact right place at the exact right time when I opened up this wrapper and saw “It’s your call”.
Since having the opportunity to work with women with pelvic floor conditions, I have witnessed so many amazing life transformations. It is so rewarding to be able to empower a woman with knowledge about her body and to be able to see her take that and run with it. To be able to sometimes be one of the first people to say, you are NOT crazy and you are not the only one with this issue, and there are actually so many things we can do besides “just learning to live with it”.
So yeah, that’s what got me into pelvic floor PT and that’s what keeps me loving to do it.
I was recently on a run with some friends and we were talking about pelvic floor PT and the recent launch of my practice in Syracuse. After sharing a little about the business, one of my friends ventured to ask, “So what exactly is pelvic floor PT? What does a pelvic floor physical therapist actually do?” These questions helped remind me that most people probably don’t have a good sense of what exactly a pelvic floor PT does or what types of conditions we treat!
A pelvic floor physical therapist has sought additional training beyond her Doctorate in Physical Therapy to specifically learn more about the anatomy and function of the pelvic floor muscles and how to perform an internal assessment of this very important muscle group. A big difference between an examination performed by a pelvic floor PT vs. one performed at your OB or gynecologist is that we focus primarily on evaluating the condition of the pelvic floor muscles instead of the pelvic organs.
A pelvic floor PT will evaluate your ability to turn these muscles on and off, their strength, endurance, how the pelvic floor is coordinating with your diaphragm (breathing muscle), and how these muscles are working as part of the core stabilization team. The actual internal portion of the exam itself is typically more comfortable than a pelvic exam at the gynecologist as it does not involve the use of any stirrups or a speculum.
The types of conditions that a pelvic floor PT evaluates and treats can include a wide variety of symptoms and diagnoses. Some of these include:
Some signs that you may benefit from a consultation with a pelvic floor physical therapist include:
As you can see, there are many different conditions and symptoms that can result from or contribute to an issue with the pelvic floor muscles being overly tight, overly weak, or just not coordinating to turn on or off at the right time. It is my job as a pelvic floor physical therapist to discover the WHY behind your pain and get to the bottom of what is truly causing your symptoms.
I love that I am able to help women solve problems that they were told they would “just have to live with” for the rest of their lives! It is truly amazing work and I am so grateful to be able to spread awareness to women about pelvic floor physical therapy as an alternative option to living with chronic pain or leakage, medications, and surgery. Please help spread the word to the women in your life and reach out to a pelvic floor PT in your area if you can relate to any of the conditions or symptoms listed above!
Head, shoulders, knees, and pelvic floor?! Where is that? Believe it or not-- females, males; we all have a pelvic floor. The pelvic floor consists of the muscles that span across the base of the pelvic bowl, from the pubic bone on the front side of the pelvis to the coccyx (tailbone) on the back side of the pelvis, and between the two sit bones (ischial tuberosities). Like a trampoline, the pelvic floor can move up and down when the muscles contract or relax.
These pelvic floor muscles have many important functions including:
During movement and lifting, the pelvic floor muscles must be able to contract (lift) as well as relax in order to work optimally as part of the core with the deep abdominal muscles, deep back muscles and diaphragm (breathing muscle).
Signs and symptoms of a pelvic floor problem may include:
You may be at increased risk for pelvic floor dysfunction if you:
If you have signs and symptoms of a pelvic floor condition or are in one of the at-risk groups listed above, it is important to avoid extra strain on your pelvic floor when exercising and during daily activities. It is especially important to rebuild pelvic floor muscle control safely and incrementally prior to returning to higher level abdominal and impact exercises if you are pregnant, postpartum, or have had a recent gynecological surgery.
A pelvic floor physical therapist is trained in the rehabilitation of the musculoskeletal system including the pelvic floor muscles, as well as additional training in internal evaluation and treatment. Your pelvic floor PT at LiveWell CNY Physical Therapy can help design a specific exercise program for you while being mindful of protecting the pelvic floor.
Pelvic Floor Muscles. Continence Foundation of Australia. Retrieved from https://www.continence.org.au/pages/how-do-pelvic-floor-muscles-help.html
Dr. Julie Berube is a pelvic floor physical therapist who is on a mission to revolutionize the standard of healthcare for women in Central New York and the Syracuse area.