Integrative Women’s Health PT: What is it and how can it support you?
There is so much focus on your health while you are pregnant, but then what about after you have given birth? How do you know if that back pain will just go away with time? Will sex ever feel normal again? Do you feel confident that you are ready to plank or run again?
While there is growing support for women after they have given birth, the United States is still grossly lacking compared to other developed nations. Integrative women’s health physical therapy (WHPT), sometimes referred to as Pelvic Floor PT, helps to fill the gap between giving birth and getting back to feeling like yourself.
So, what is WHPT? Hint- It is a lot more than kegels! Healthy pelvic floor muscles impact our ability to work out leak free, go to the bathroom easily, control gas, experience pleasurable sex, and give us the freedom to squat and bend to pick up and play with kids. The pelvic floor is also a key player of the core which keeps us strong, pain free, and capable of doing all the things required to be an active mom.
If we think of our ‘core’ as a canister- the pelvic floor forms the base. The diaphragm muscle forms the top of the canister. When this system is working well, the breath drives our core and pelvic floor to subtly contract and relax throughout the day. When I am working with a new client, I want to see how she moves and breaths with a variety of tasks to see how this system is working. It is often necessary to do a focused pelvic floor muscles assessment to ensure the muscles at the base of the canister are moving through a complete, healthy range of motion.
It is common to see breakdowns in this canister system post-partum. Some symptoms you may experience are leakage, hip pain, back pain, tightness in the upper back and neck, pressure at the base of the pelvis, pain with sex, or an inability to tolerate sitting. It can feel overwhelming and create fear, but please know that you are not alone and that there are relatively simple solutions to get you back on track and kicking it at the gym and home.
A simple self-assessment is to place your hand open palm on your belly. See what happens when you try to lift one leg and then the other. Does your belly balloon out into your hand? Does it feel like you grip in the middle? Are you holding your breath? Any of these signs signal a ‘kink’ in the pressure system.
Small problems now turn into big problems later. It makes sense, right? I know it can be a challenge to find the time for your own health and healing, but a few sessions of WHPT after having a baby can really go a long way in your overall sense of wellbeing. Think of your WHPT as your coach and cheerleader to help you get to know your body again and get you back to doing what you love.
To learn more about Integrative women’s health physical therapy, check out Dr. Megan Anderson’s website at www.MeganAndersonPT.com. You may also take the Cozean Pelvic Floor Screen that follows. If you answer ‘yes’ to 3+ of the questions, you will likely benefit from scheduling an evaluation or a complimentary consultation.