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Physical Therapy For The Pelvic Floor – What It Is And Why Should You Care

Written by: Dr. Nikki Cohen, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

Pelvic Floor issues are a big part of women’s health, yet most women don’t know much about their pelvic floor, or how to take care of their pelvic floor.


Here’s your one-stop shop for what you need to know about your pelvic floor and how to take care of it.

What is the Pelvic Floor?


The pelvic floor is a group of muscles located at the bottom of the pelvis that helps control bodily functions related to pee, poop, and sex. A woman's pelvic floor muscles work like a hammock to support the pelvic organs, including the uterus, bladder and rectum. [1] The pelvic floor basically helps you hold in your pee, poop, and farts when you need to, while also allowing you to pee, poop, and fart when appropriate. The pelvic floor muscles are also involved in giving birth and allow the baby to exit vaginally with a vaginal birth.


What are Pelvic Floor Exercises?


For decades, the go-to standard treatment for just about any women’s health issue including bladder leakage, prolapse, or pelvic pain has been pelvic floor exercises, aka “Kegel exercises”. Pelvic floor exercises, known as Kegel exercises, can help you strengthen your pelvic muscles and reduce these symptoms. [2]


Pelvic floor exercises, like any exercise, involve a contraction phase and a relaxation phase. The contraction phase tightens the muscles and closes the 3 pelvic openings the urethra, vagina, and anus. The relaxation phase lets go of the contraction, opens the urethra, vagina, and anus, and allows the muscles to reset and get ready for the next repetition. While this sounds simple, most women don’t do pelvic floor exercises properly.


Do Kegel Exercises Work?


When done correctly, pelvic floor exercises can work very well. However, many women have not been taught how to do Kegel exercises correctly, which is part of the problem, so here’s what you need to know.


The biggest mistake you can make is doing too many contractions without enough relaxation. It’s easy to think that tightening more and holding the contraction for a long time will create a stronger pelvic floor, but it’s not that simple. The truth is, if the muscles don’t relax completely after each contraction, it can create tension in the pelvic floor muscles and possibly worsen the symptoms you’re trying to fix! (Tight muscles do not work very well!)


To make matters even worse, many women already have tension in their pelvic floor without even knowing it!


Pelvic floor tension can come from many sources including pregnancy, childbirth, constipation, back injuries, and hip injuries to name a few. Stress can also cause the pelvic floor muscles to tighten. Yup, you read that right. Stress can cause the pelvic floor to tighten without you even knowing it!

What Can I Do to Help My Pelvic Floor?


There are several things you can do to help create a healthy pelvic floor.


The first thing you can do is search for a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist in your area. A Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist is a specialized type of physical therapist that addresses pelvic floor dysfunction. A Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist can assess your pelvic floor and help determine if Kegel exercises are right for you, and how to properly do Kegel exercises. With the right training and guidance, a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist can help improve the health of your pelvic floor, and resolve issues like incontinence and pelvic pain while also providing an amazing opportunity to connect to a part of your body that is often neglected and taken for granted.


If you don’t have a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist in your area, don’t fret! You can start learning more about your pelvic floor with The Truth About Kegels guidebook. [3] It’s a free download to kick off your educational journey about your pelvic floor, why Kegels may not work, and what you can start doing today to improve your pelvic floor health.


And lastly… relax. Stress is a huge contributor to pelvic floor dysfunction. Take a moment several times throughout the day to stop and breathe. Trust that everything is working out for you, even when it doesn’t seem like it. You are a resilient, incredible being who is capable of handling everything life throws at you. Trust in yourself. You are stronger than you know.


Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!

 

Dr. Nikki Cohen, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Dr. Nikki is a Doctor of Physical Therapy specializing in Pelvic Floor Dysfunction and is a passionate leader in transforming women’s healthcare. She saw a gap in the care of women firsthand and developed a proprietary methodology in providing 1:1 patient care, as well as offering essential information online. Founder of The Organic PT, Dr. Nikki takes the awkwardness out of potentially embarrassing issues and empowers women with knowledge to take back control in their health, wellness and life.

 

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