I would be able to afford a vacation home by the beach if I had a nickel for all the times I heard the following:
These are the many questions and comments I hear from my clients after we have completed their first visit for Women’s Health (or WH) physical therapy (PT).
I have been a physical therapist specializing in WH for over fifteen years. I have given many lectures at doctor’s lunch-and-learns and conferences on what I do and why WH PT would be beneficial for their clients or themselves. I have stopped pregnant women in line at the grocery store to ask how they are feeling and have discussed how I could help them during and after their pregnancy, even if their pregnancy was going smooth. I have been in a hotel room with ten women at a business conference-leading them all through a Kegel exercise program. I am even known to bring up bowel and bladder habits at any meal, with any company. And with each conversation I have, I am amazed at how little our culture knows about WH PT and its benefits.
So if you are reading this and thinking “What exactly is a WH physical therapist and should I go see one?” My answer to you is, if you have a pelvis and a pelvic floor (Which, hint: you do!), then yes, you should!”
Why a Women’s Health Physical Therapist?
A Women’s Health Physical Therapist has taken extensive pelvic-specific training and are experts on on the ins and outs of your pelvis. They administer internal exams that assess critical muscles on the inside of your body, such as the pelvic floor, to determine how your body is working or not working for you. There are so many amazing things that make being a woman special, but sometimes, those very amazing things are also the culprit to long-term problems, dysfunction, instability, or pain.
Below are five (of the many) reasons why you should see a WH PT, and how we can help:
Listen the truth is many women wear panty liners because daily activities are not as comfortable as they used to be. Whether discomfort is caused by leaking urine when laughing with friends or urinary urgency while watching a movie, the struggle is real for many women. These issues often originate with the pelvic floor muscles and leaking can result when these muscles are under-active, weak, too tense, and too tight. Believe it or not, your feet, your hips, and how you breathe all can affect leaking and we’ve got you covered. Note: Incontinence doesn’t only involve leaking of urine, it also may be feces or gas.
2. Painful Internal Medical Exams
You may be surprised to hear this, but pain with internal medical exams, during intercourse, and difficulty putting a tampon in is extremely common. However, it is not normal; nor should you have to live like this. A WHPT will help you determine why your pelvic floor muscles are holding up a big no entry sign, and how to allow easier entry once again.
3. Pelvic Girdle Instability
The female pelvic girdle is different from men for specific and beautiful reasons. Many things can affect the balance of the pelvic girdle for females: puberty changes, hormones (Another bonus of our menstrual cycle!), pregnancy, and postpartum (even years well after childbearing). Learning about these differences is the key to understanding why our bodies respond to changes in ways that may result in imbalance, pain, and inflammation, resulting in symptoms such as hip pain, sciatica, bursitis, or tendinitis of the hips and/or knees. A WHPT will train your muscles to activate and function efficiently and effectively and address your aches and pains once and for all (even if you have not responded to traditional physical therapy and orthopedic treatments).
There is an abundance of education for expecting moms about how a baby develops and how a mother’s body accommodates to their growing needs. What is often missing is how your needs change as your pregnancy progresses. Adjusting muscles and joints throughout your spine and pelvis can be challenging and even painful. A WHPT can help you understand and counteract stress placed on your body throughout your entire pregnancy. In addition, we can prepare your pelvic floor and perineum for labor and delivery. In other words, decrease your chances of tearing. Yes, please!
As mentioned above, your pelvis changes during pregnancy in numerous ways to accommodate for and prepare for the delivery of your baby. Contrary to popular belief, things don’t just go back to the way they were. Whether you had a baby three months ago, three years ago or 23 years ago, your pelvis is likely still unstable and unbalanced unless you are seeing a WHPT and doing the exercises used to retrain them. Clinical research supports that rehabilitation after pregnancy can prevent incontinence, prolapse, and/or sexual dysfunction. In fact, in countries, like France, postpartum PT is the norm… everyone has a WHPT postpartum!
To be honest, making a list of five “conditions” that a Women’s Health Physical Therapist can help you with has been almost impossible because there are so many reasons a woman should see a WHPT and these are just the tips of the proverbial iceberg. Many of the things women’s bodies struggle with that our society and culture consider normal is not. The fact of the matter is, learning how your body is and should be working for you is the most important way to recover from and/or prevent most of these issues. Call your local WHPT today and let them guide and support you so that you can comfortably live that life you love.
Your Nurture Notetakers
Dr. Julie Spencer, DPT, Co-owner of The Restoration Space
Kim Bandi, OTR/L, Founder of The Nurture Notebook
Ava (15) Teen Author