Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy: Why Kegel Exercises Aren’t Everything

When you Google “pelvic floor exercises” you’ll likely come across a dozen articles recommending Kegel exercises. While Kegel exercises serve a purpose in strengthening and tightening the muscles down-there, they are not meant to be a cure-all. The truth is there’s a lot more to the science of pelvic floor health that isn’t as often discussed.

In fact, there are a host of pelvic floor disorders that can benefit from a more personalized approach through pelvic floor physical therapy. Before we dive into how this type of physical therapy works, let’s learn a little more about the conditions it can treat.

Common Pelvic Floor Disorders

For context, the pelvic floor refers to a band of muscles that run between the pubic bone and the tailbone – including the uterus, bladder, and bowel. These are important muscles that we use when we go to the bathroom, have sex, and when we give birth.

When these muscles become weakened or put under stress, it can lead to pelvic floor disorders. These disorders are incredibly common and can impact women across their lifespan before childbirth, after childbirth, and during or after menopause. There are a host of pelvic floor disorders, but we’ll just hit on the most common ones here:

While these conditions are all common, it’s important not to brush off your symptoms as “normal” and stay suffering in silence. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, pelvic floor physical therapy may be able to help ease your discomfort or pain. So, how exactly does it work?

How Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy Works

Unlike the typical physical therapy session, you might imagine in a gym setting, pelvic floor physical therapy is performed in an intimate, private, and calming room. An appointment typically lasts an hour during which your provider will provide a thorough consultation and examination to better understand your concerns and help develop a plan to meet your specific needs.

First, your physical therapist will begin by providing education on how your pelvic floor works, and how to use these muscles correctly.

Then, they will take an assessment of both your psychological and physical health. In many cases, stress or emotional trauma may be a contributing factor to pelvic pain. Just like when we tense our neck and shoulders, it’s common to tense our pelvic floor muscles when we’re stressed. Therefore, ensuring a sound mind-body connection is incredibly important when it comes to treating pelvic floor disorders.

Next, your therapist will conduct a musculoskeletal exam to check your posture and coordination of your external muscles and joints.

Finally, if you’re comfortable and provide your consent, your provider will perform an internal vaginal exam to identify any trigger points. Your provider will also assess how these muscles are working in tandem with the rest of your body. Pelvic floor therapy isn’t just about strength—it’s also about coordination. Therefore, it’s important for your provider to assess how your diaphragm, abs, and pelvic floor are working together.

After your session, your physical therapist will equip you with a set of simple, functional exercises for you to do at-home. This could include something as simple as holding a squat while you brush your teeth or deep breathing exercises to relax the muscles and release tension before sex. Whether you realize it or not, your pelvic floor muscles are always working so it’s easy to incorporate the exercises into your daily routine.

When Should I Seek out Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy?

Pelvic floor physical therapy is often the first step in the process of treating common pelvic floor disorders. It can potentially treat your condition without the need for surgical intervention.

Again, we’ve only hit on a few of the most common pelvic floor disorders here. But, if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you should consult with your healthcare provider to determine if pelvic floor physical therapy is right for you:

Many pelvic floor physical therapists will also recommend treatment for new moms during the postpartum phase as it can help with healing after labor.

If your pelvic floor symptoms are painful, bothersome, and getting in the way of you enjoying your life, pelvic floor physical therapy may be able to help!


Gina Cunningham headshot - Axia Women's HealthAuthor: Gina Cunningham PT, DPT, WCS, physical therapist with Axia Women’s Health Urogynecology


 

 

 

Join us this Thursday at 6 PM for a webinar with Gina Cunningham, Director of Pelvic Health Physical Therapy Program at Axia's Center for Urogynecology and Pelvic Health to learn ways to improve and maintain your pelvic floor health.

Register today by clicking the link in our bio!
...

22 1

Pelvic floor health is an essential part of women's health. We're so proud of the Director of our Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy Program, Dr. Gina Cunningham, who supported this bill to help advocate for women. We're so lucky to have providers that continue to lead the way in women's health!

#pelvicfloorPT #pelvicfloorhealth #pelvicfloorphysicaltherapy #pelvicfloorawareness
...

38 4

With the warm summer months comes an increased risk of developing a urinary tract infection. That's because the hot sumer weather can create a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Here are some tips to help you ward off UTIs, and keep on enjoying your summer! 👙☀️

#summerhealth #whatsupdownthere #vaginalhealth #womenshealth #UTIs #summer #healthylifestyle
...

33 0

Bloating, fatigue, and...shooting pains back there? Yep, this is a real symptom of your period. 😩 If you've ever experienced a painful spasm in your booty during your period, you're not alone. It's actually a real medical condition known as "proctalgia fugax." 📖

Hormones known as prostaglandins can trigger these painful muscle spasms as they cause the muscles in your pelvic floor and rectum to contract. Taking a warm bath, taking Aspirin or Ibuprofen, and pelvic floor physical therapy can help! 🛀Visit link in bio to learn more. 🔗

#periodcramps #periodpain #periodproblems #menstruation #menstrualcycle #menstrualhealth #whatsupdownthere
...

32 1

Let's talk about…bladder health! We're excited to chat with Nicole Waetzman, Director of Axia Women's Health Bladder and Pelvic Health Outreach program, next week about all things bladder health. We'll be busting common myths surrounding bladder health and shedding light on common conditions and how to treat them. Have a question for Nicole? Drop it in the comments below or DM us and we'll be sure to address it during the live discussion. ...

31 4

We're excited to chat with Gina Cunningham, Director of Axia's Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy Program, next week about all things pelvic floor health. 💬 We'll be covering how to find and activate your pelvic floor muscles, the role that stress can play in pelvic floor dysfunction, and how physical therapy can help! 📢 Have a question for Gina? ❔Drop it in the comments below or DM us and we'll be sure to address it during the live discussion. 👇🏻

#pelvicfloor #pelvicfloorphysicaltherapy #womenshealth #iglivestream
...

33 0

Similar Articles