Just like any other muscle group in the body, the pelvic floor muscles can also experience weakness, looseness, tightness, and poor coordination. These functional deficits can lead to several issues and negatively impact your quality of life. Weak pelvic muscles cause problems like incontinence, while overly tight muscles in the pelvic floor might lead to painful intercourse and constipation. Physical therapy is often an effective treatment for pelvic floor dysfunction.
What is Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy?
Like conventional PT, pelvic floor physical therapy targets the musculoskeletal system, focusing on the muscles situated in the pelvic floor. These muscles are crucial in providing stability to the pelvis, supporting the abdominal organs, and containing the endpoints of the urinary, gastrointestinal, and reproductive systems.
Pelvic floor therapy focuses on restoring proper function to the muscles in the pelvic floor, usually by strengthening or relaxing them. Muscles that are too weak don’t provide sufficient support for internal organs, while muscles that are too tight and unable to relax don’t allow proper movement and often cause pain. Physical therapy can help restore a proper balance of strength and flexibility to the pelvic floor, improving sexual function and bladder and bowel control.
How Does Pelvic Floor Therapy Work?
During your first appointment, your pelvic floor physical therapist will evaluate your condition and develop a treatment plan tailored to your specific needs. Treatment may include exercises to strengthen and coordinate the pelvic floor muscles, manual therapy techniques, biofeedback, and education on proper body mechanics and posture.
Your pelvic floor physical therapist will work with you to develop a treatment plan personalized to your needs and goals. They will provide the tools and techniques you need to improve your pelvic floor function. Pelvic floor physical therapy involves a range of techniques tailored to meet the specific needs of each patient. Some of the most commonly used methods include:
- Pelvic floor muscle exercises. Pelvic floor exercises, such as Kegels, strengthen and tone the pelvic floor muscles. This can improve bladder and bowel control, reduce pain, and improve sexual function.
- Manual therapy. Manual therapy techniques use hands-on manipulation and mobilization to address muscle tension, trigger points, and scar tissue.
- Biofeedback. Biofeedback involves using specialized equipment to monitor and provide feedback on the activity of the pelvic floor muscles. Typically, the patient attempts to contract pelvic muscles while a device monitors which muscles are contracted and how strongly. This can help patients learn to control these muscles better and improve their function.
- Electrical stimulation. Electrical stimulation involves using low-level electrical currents to stimulate the pelvic floor muscles. This can help improve muscle tone and coordination.
- Relaxation techniques. Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and mindfulness, can help reduce muscle tension and improve pelvic floor function. In the case of patients with tension in the pelvic floor muscles, holistic healing methods may be beneficial to alleviate stress and boost relaxation.
- Education and lifestyle modifications. Pelvic floor physical therapists may provide education on proper posture, body mechanics, and dietary changes to help improve pelvic floor function.
Benefits of Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy
Problems in the pelvic floor can affect your daily life in many ways. You may have trouble using the bathroom, struggle with urinary incontinence, or experience discomfort during intercourse. Physical therapy to restore pelvic floor function can significantly improve your quality of life, most often by improving sexual function and bowel and bladder control.
No more worrying about dribbling when you sneeze or needing constant access to a restroom because of urge incontinence. Alternatively, PT for overly tight pelvic floor muscles can alleviate pain and incontinence.
What to Expect After Pelvic Floor Therapy
Since there are several different techniques for pelvic floor therapy and we take a personalized approach to each, every patient’s experience will vary based on their unique treatment. Generally, these treatments are gentle and cause little to no discomfort. Your physical therapist will discuss what to expect after your physician therapy sessions.
Any treatment that seeks to improve muscle tone will take time and consistent effort. You’ll likely need multiple sessions before you notice improvements. Doing any at-home exercises your therapist prescribes between appointments is crucial for success, and you may need to continue doing these after therapy for ongoing benefits.
Is Pelvic Floor Therapy Right for Me?
If you suffer from any of the following conditions, you may benefit from pelvic floor physical therapy:
- Urinary or fecal incontinence
- Pelvic, abdominal, or lower back pain
- Leaking with coughing, sneezing, or running
- Pain with intercourse
- Recurrent bladder or vaginal infections
- Pain during or after pregnancy
One of our pelvic floor specialists at Megan Mullin Physical Therapy will meet with you and evaluate your condition to create your personalized treatment plan. Almost anyone struggling with pelvic floor dysfunction can benefit from physical therapy.
Take the Next Step
Interested in pelvic floor therapy? At Megan Mullin Physical Therapy, our mission is to help you optimize your health and fitness for strong, pain-free living. Contact us today at (805) 888-7737 or fill out the form below to learn more and schedule an appointment with a physical therapist in Woodstock, NY, or San Luis Obispo, CA. We also offer virtual appointments for some PT services.