Have you ever wondered what pelvic physiotherapy actually is and how it helps? Our pelvic physiotherapist explains.
What are pelvic floor muscles?
The pelvic floor muscles are a group of muscles found along the base of our pelvis that create the foundation of our trunk and core. They form a hammock and should have the perfect balance of tension and relaxation to be strong and support our body.
The pelvic floor muscles support our low back and hip joints, they are an important member of our core system (you can’t have a strong core without a strong pelvic floor), they support our urinary function, bowel function and sexual function, and they are closely connected to our breathing, our resting state (calm or anxious) and our emotions.
Because the pelvic floor muscles have many different functions, pelvic floor muscle dysfunction can present in many different ways and affect many different systems.
What is pelvic floor dysfunction?
Pelvic floor dysfunction is when the pelvic floor muscles cause or contribute to symptoms such as:
- Leaking on your way to the bathroom
- Leaking when you sneeze, cough, or laugh
- Leaking when you run or jump or suddenly change position
- A feeling of fullness or heaviness in the vaginal area
- Prolapse/bulging at the vaginal opening
- Difficulty strengthening your core muscles
- Diastasis Recti
- Painful intercourse
- A sudden/intense urge to pee and/or difficulty making it to the bathroom
- Needing to pee often/planning your day around where the bathrooms are.
- Pelvic pain
- Tailbone pain
How does pelvic health physiotherapy help?
A pelvic health physiotherapist does a full history and physical assessment to piece together the factors that are contributing to your symptoms. The history will give a clear picture of what your symptoms are and which systems are affected.
The physical assessment will look at all the surrounding factors that impact how your pelvic floor works: from breathing, posture, movement patterns, to core and hip muscle strength and conditioning. It will also include an internal evaluation (based on your consent) to assess the specific function and mobility of your pelvic floor muscles including: pelvic floor muscle strength, tension levels (under-active/hypotonic muscles or over-active/hypertonic muscles), quality of contraction and relaxation, scar tissue restrictions and fascial restrictions.
This will enable the physiotherapist to develop a treatment plan with specific mobility and strengthening treatments and exercises to improve your pelvic floor function and relieve your symptoms.
What happens to the pelvic floor during pregnancy and postpartum?
You may experience many of the symptoms above during pregnancy or postpartum as your core and pelvic floor adapt to a changing body.
For an overview of how pelvic health physiotherapy supports you to have healthy and fit pregnancy, prepares you for labour and delivery and guides your postpartum recovery, click here for our guide: