WHAT IS PELVIC FLOOR PHYSIOTHERAPY?
The use of internal and external techniques to retrain or release the muscles that support your organs (pelvic floor).
Signs and symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction
- Urinary incontinence (leakage)
- Pelvic pain
- Tailbone pain
- Pelvic organ prolapse
- Painful intercourse
- Chronic low back pain
To Kegel or NOT to Kegel
Kegels are commonly prescribed after childbirth; however, they are not beneficial to everyone. In fact, kegels may be detrimental to some women based on how their pelvic floor presents to their physiotherapist.
Hypertonicity – Pelvic floor muscles are tight
Hypotonicity – Pelvic floor muscles are weak
If kegels are performed improperly, they may not provide benefit to the patient as the wrong muscles could be working.
If kegels are performed when a patient’s pelvic floor is hypertonic, this can in fact worsen the issue and lead to further problems such as leakage, painful intercourse, pelvic pain, and chronic low back pain.
THE EVIDENCE – PELVIC FLOOR PHYSIOTHERAPY AND CHRONIC LOWER BACK PAIN
Studies have found a strong correlation between chronic lower back pain and pelvic floor dysfunction. In a study done by Dufour and colleagues in 2018, 95% of women with chronic lower back pain also presented with pelvic floor dysfunction; tightness and pelvic floor muscle weakness were the most common issues.
ANXIETY AND THE PELVIC FLOOR
When we breathe in deeply, the diaphragm expands and stretches the pelvic floor. When we breathe out, the diaphragm contracts with the pelvic floor and lifts up.
People with anxiety often breathe apically (through their chest) which does not allow the pelvic floor muscles to lengthen with the diaphragm. As a result, the pelvic floor muscles shorten and can lead to issues related to hypertonicity.