Like your heart tirelessly pumping blood, or your GI tract steadily digesting food, your pelvic floor is an unsung hero in your body. The pelvic floor is made up of springy, elastic tissue that sits horizontally, like a hammock or trampoline stretched across the bottom of the pelvic bowl, which is made up of 2 innominate bones and sacrum and coccyx.
When it’s in an ideal condition and tension, your pelvic floor is an essential part of the body, performing countless duties at once. These roles include:
- Supporting your digestive organs (bladder, bowel, rectum, etc.)
- Stabilizing your pelvis and spine
- Helping to control continence (your body’s waste processes)
- Supporting the uterus and vagina in females
- And more
Unlike other parts of the body, the pelvic floor is a key part of several processes. And while your pelvic floor is normally quite stable, life changes can lead to it needing some therapeutic care. That’s where pelvic floor therapy comes in.
So what can you expect from the process of pelvic floor therapy? What do the sessions look like? How effectively can it help you recover? And how long does it take to start seeing results? In this article, we’ll break down the six things to know before beginning pelvic floor therapy.
1. Why to start pelvic floor therapy
There are many cases where your pelvic floor might become weakened or tight. Childbearing is a big one, with the weight of the fetus and the strain of birth taking its toll on the elastic tissues of the pelvic floor. However, the pelvic floor can become weakened from other causes, such as an acute injury or simply as part of the hormonal changes of menopause as well as the aging process.
A weakened pelvic floor has major health implications for males and females, such as issues with incontinence (leakage of urine or fecal matter), ongoing pain, a higher risk of complications during pregnancy, and more. Pelvic floor therapy is essential to preventing these issues, and typically, the sooner done, the better.
2. When should I start pelvic floor therapy?
There are a number of issues, injuries, and symptoms that may indicate a need for this type of therapy. And since you don’t need a doctor’s referral to get an assessment from a physiotherapist, it’s worth it to sit down with one if you have any concerns. With that said, there are certain issues that tend to point to an issue with the pelvic floor, including:
- Urinary incontinence
- Inability to control flatus (passing gas)
- Chronic constipation
- Pain during urination
- Painful sex
- Recurring or constant pain in the back, hips, pelvis, lower abdominals, or thighs
- Excessive SIJ (sacroiliac joint) pain or instability during pregnancy or post-natal
- Rectal pain
If you’re experiencing any of these issues, there is a chance that a weakened or tight pelvic floor is the root cause. In order to be proactive, it’s best to set up a pelvic floor therapy assessment if you notice these symptoms.
3. The basics of pelvic floor therapy and how it works
It’s important to remember that while the pelvic floor is made of muscle, it can’t be as simply exercised as your arms or legs. Pelvic floor therapy is a clinical treatment performed by a physiotherapist. It focuses on training the muscle groups of the pelvic floor itself, which will in turn allow it to heal, recover, and strengthen.
Although the specifics of pelvic floor therapy can vary from person to person, there are a few things to expect. This includes:
- Posture, breath and core assessment
- Activation or stabilization exercises of your core, hips, and lower back
- Pelvic floor activation or relaxation exercises
- Fascial release work for improved breathing
- Bladder irritant information
- Recommendations for changes to your daily habits and posture
In combination with a dedicated therapist who pays attention to your unique needs, this regimen can have dramatic effects on the health of your pelvic floor. Over time, the routine will likely be altered to suit your abilities, ensuring your progress continues.
4. How long does pelvic floor therapy take to start working?
Sadly, there are no overnight fixes for a weakened pelvic floor (as of yet). However, a great physiotherapist will help you start to get relief from your symptoms within just a few sessions. This won’t be a complete recovery yet, but a promising baseline to help you keep making progress.
Typically, my patients will see a more complete recovery within 2-4 months of regular pelvic floor therapy.
5. Is pelvic floor therapy painful?
The pelvic floor is a sensitive area, and as with any therapy on a weakened or injured body part, you may find parts of it more physically uncomfortable. However, the process should not be painful, and your physiotherapist will take steps to ensure you’re working within your unique limits at all times.
6. How to get started with pelvic floor therapy
Unfortunately, a stigma can sometimes exist around a weakened pelvic floor and the issues associated with it. Whether you’re having trouble during sex, struggling with incontinence, or simply putting up with ongoing pain, it can be difficult to deal with day-to-day life while not feeling your best. That’s why it’s so important to find a physiotherapist who empowers you, helping you rebuild your body and your confidence along with it.
Getting started with pelvic floor therapy all begins with finding a qualified, trustworthy physiotherapist that you can feel comfortable around. In my 25+ years of working as a pelvic floor therapist, I’ve honed my approach, helping put my clients at ease while ensuring they’re making steady progress toward their health goals.
For your pelvic floor therapy, you can count on a judgment-free, accommodating experience. It all begins with an in-depth assessment, where we sit down to discuss the challenges you’re facing and the changes you’d like to see. From here, I create your customized treatment plan, and we get into a routine of regular visits, at-home exercises, and more. The regimen can be adapted at any time based on your needs, and I strive to keep you comfortable throughout the whole process.
If you’re ready to take back control of your body, your health, and your life, I’m here to help. If you have more questions about pelvic floor therapy, its uses, and its benefits—or if you’re ready to book your assessment today, don’t hesitate to get in touch.