Poor pelvic health? 4 methods PTs use to help

Your pelvic floor can also be thought of as your body’s core hammock. It plays a critical role in your overall well-being. This muscular sling helps support your bladder, uterus or prostate, and rectum. It can influence everything from urinary and bowel control to sexual function. Maintaining optimal pelvic health is essential for both men and women, impacting daily activities and quality of life. Pelvic floor dysfunction happens when your pelvic floor muscles get stretched, weak or tight. It affects around 1 in 3 women at some point in their lives, and approximately 16% of men have a pelvic floor disorder. Fortunately, if you’re experiencing pelvic floor dysfunction, there’s a safe and effective solution: physical therapy.

Physical therapy methods that can be beneficial for pelvic floor health

Pelvic floor physical therapists are specially trained to help assess and treat issues that are related to this essential muscle group. Several methods that they may use include:

  • Biofeedback Biofeedback allows your physical therapist to have an on-screen view of your pelvic floor muscles. It can provide real-time feedback on muscle activity, helping you and your physical therapist see how your muscles are working and help you learn to control them more effectively. This feedback can be helpful to ensure that you’re using proper technique for exercises, especially when doing Kegel exercises. 
  • Kegel exercises — These exercises involve contracting and relaxing your pelvic floor muscles. It can be similar to holding and releasing your urine stream. Your physical therapist can guide you through how to do the exercises with proper technique. Using the correct technique is essential to target the right muscles and maximize the benefits. Not all squeezes are created equally, and your physical therapist can help you isolate the correct muscles so you can do Kegel exercises effectively. 
  • Electrical stimulation — In some cases, gentle electrical stimulation can be used to stimulate muscle contractions or relaxation. This can be helpful for people who are having a difficult time activating or controlling their pelvic floor muscles. You can think of it as a tiny electrical nudge to help your muscles relearn the proper way they are supposed to contract or relax.
  • Manual therapy — Specialized manual therapy techniques, like those used by a COMT (a physical therapist with a Certification in Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapy), can be used to address tight muscles, boost circulation and reduce pain in your pelvic region. A COMT has advanced training and skills to have a more in-depth understanding of musculoskeletal anatomy, biomechanics and movement analysis. This understanding can be beneficial in understanding pelvic floor dysfunction. During their education to gain their certification, a COMT learns a variety of evidence-based manual therapy techniques like joint mobilization, soft tissue manipulation and postural correction. They can use these techniques to help address muscle tightness, trigger points and other pain in surrounding areas like your low back, hips and abdomen. Manual therapy techniques that can be used to help address pelvic floor concerns include:
  • Myofascial release — This technique helps focus on releasing tension in the fascia. Fascia is the connective tissue that surrounds your muscles and organs. Your physical therapist will use gentle, sustained pressure or slow strokes applied to the fascia. As the fascia relaxes, it can help improve flexibility and reduce pain you may be experiencing in your low back, hips and abdomen, which can indirectly impact your pelvic floor. 
  • Trigger point therapy — Trigger points are small, tight knots within muscle that can cause pain and dysfunction. Your physical therapist may use direct pressure or specific tools to help deactivate these trigger points. This can help relieve pain and improve muscle function in your pelvic floor and surrounding areas. 
  • Soft tissue manipulation — This technique involves gentle manipulation of your muscles and other soft tissue to help improve flexibility, reduce tightness and boost circulation. 
  • Internal techniques — Internal manual therapy can involve inserting gloved fingers into the vagina or rectum to directly assess and address muscle tension, trigger points and scar tissue within the pelvic floor. This approach is always done with patient consent and in a private setting. It can be beneficial for conditions like pelvic pain, urinary incontinence or difficulty with bowel movements. 
  • Joint mobilization — The joints in your pelvis and lower spine can sometimes become restricted, which can impact your pelvic floor muscle function. Your physical therapist may use gentle joint mobilization techniques to help improve mobility in these areas. 
  • Vaginal dilators — These are smooth, cylindrical tools that can come in a variety of sizes. Your physical therapist may recommend these if you are experiencing pain during intercourse or vaginal tightness. These dilators are inserted and gradually increase in size over time. This can help improve vaginal elasticity and reduce discomfort during sex. 

It’s important to remember that each technique is only a single piece of the puzzle in helping to treat pelvic floor dysfunction. Your physical therapist will use a combination of techniques to create a personalized treatment plan to help you reach optimal results. If you are experiencing pelvic floor dysfunction, it’s essential not to delay treatment. Ignoring the problem can lead to leakage, pain, sexual dysfunction and difficulty doing daily activities.

Experience the difference personalized physical therapy can make at Lattimore PT

At Lattimore Physical Therapy, we understand that pelvic floor dysfunction can be a sensitive and frustrating issue. Our team of highly trained and skilled physical therapists is dedicated to providing compassionate care in a supportive environment. We use a variety of evidence-based techniques to help address the root cause of your pelvic floor dysfunction. We believe in creating a personalized treatment plan that caters to your specific needs and goals. Don’t hesitate to take charge of your pelvic health for a better tomorrow. 

Contact our team today for more information or to schedule an initial appointment.

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