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What is Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy?

It's physical therapy - but for your pelvic floor muscles!

Okay - kinda obvious. But maybe not. Let's start with a working definition of physical therapy and then expand out from there.

Let me introduce you to the wide world of physical therapy:

People seek out physical therapy when their physical body is not presenting in its optimal state.

There is orthopedic physical therapy; ortho- meaning alignment, which focuses on joint alignment, strength and mobility. This is who you would see if you broke your arm or had a hip replacement.

There is cardiopulmonary physical therapy; cardio- alluding to heart, and pulm- alluding to lungs, which helps you regain strength, endurance, and stamina after major heart surgeries, long periods of inactivity, or if you have some sort of breathing challenge.

There is even neurological physical therapy; neuro- meaning the brain, which helps people regain balance, coordination, and basic movement mechanics if they have a condition or experienced an event that impacts their brain, spinal cord, and nerves.

And so many other types of physical therapies! All physical therapists (PTs) have the same baseline education, and many choose to hone in on one speciality area or on one body region.

Now, pelvic floor physical therapy is most similar to orthopedic physical therapy in that the focus is on the muscles, joints, and soft tissue with the goal to align, strengthen, and optimize movement/function. The only difference being that a pelvic floor PT spends most of their time focused on the pelvic floor!

What is the pelvic floor?

The pelvic floor is an all-encompassing term used to describe the group of muscles that live inside the pelvis. It is group of over 10 different muscles, all running in different directions, and pinned to the inner rim of the pelvis in a hammock or bowl-like shape. Here is a short video I made to illustrate this:

These muscles are just like any other muscle in the body. When you activate these muscles, it causes a squeeze and lift action that causes the "bowl" to become more shallow. And conversely, when the pelvic floor relaxes or stretches, the bowl-shape deepens.

The pelvic floor is actually responsible for so many of our day-to-day functions! But for whatever reason (likely indoctrinated shame and avoidance of anything near our genitals - but more on that another day) this group of muscles is often left out of or only briefly touched upon in many basic anatomy or sex ed classes.

The pelvic floor influences your breathing, core strength, and circulation, as well as other more commonly cited things like sexual function, digestion, and continence (your ability to hold back pee, poop, and gas). You can read more about the many functions of the pelvic floor here!

Why does the pelvic floor need its own type of physical therapy?

The pelvic floor has earned its own specialty of physical therapy because there is SO MUCH that can be done at the pelvis alone. Many pelvic floor physical therapists take a full body approach and do look beyond the pelvis in their sessions. But the pelvis itself requires a unique type of examination and treatment!

Pelvic Floor Exam *the PT kind*

Pelvic Floor PTs all have additional training that allow them to perform internal exams. This involves the use of 1 gloved and lubricated finger (no speculums or other intimidating hardware) entering the body via the vaginal or anal canal and performing sweeping motions or static holds to test muscle tension and strength.

Note: every human with a pelvis has a pelvic floor! In the past, Pelvic Floor PT has been marketed as "Women's Health" but it is not limited to women. This work is for all people and all people deserve access to this care.

It is 100% possible to have a Pelvic PT Session and not do any internal work; however, the option to go internal and address muscle/tissue health directly through the pelvis is what sets Pelvic PTs apart. You can not get an internal pelvic exam or treatment from any other kind of PT, and a pelvic exam performed by a Pelvic PT is completely different from the Pelvic Exam you may receive from an OB/GYN.

Pelvic PT Treatment

The difference when it comes to treatment, is that Pelvic PT focuses on building strength, mobility and coordination via breathing mechanics, deep core activation, and pelvic floor activation.

All of these functions are relevant to every other kind of PT; however, Pelvic PTs are the experts at noticing the how these functions are influencing your presentation!

Some diagnoses that Pelvic PTs are trained to help support include pain with penetration, painful periods, endometriosis, PCOS, interstitial cystitis, lichens sclerosis, pelvic organ prolapse, incontinence, erectile dysfunction, generalized pelvic pain, and others similar.

You may also want to see a Pelvic PT to support you in your journey through puberty, pregnancy, postpartum, and/or menopause. You can also see a Pelvic PT on an annual basis for a wellness check in.

No matter what experience you are having at your pelvis, you deserve to feel seen, understood, and empowered! Your Pelvic PT should be able to provide that. And if not, that's where we come in (;

What can you expect from Pelvic Physical Therapy at The Pelvic Empowerment Movement?

In short: well rounded care that is attuned to you.

We get that the pelvis can be a sensitive part of the body, both to feel and to talk about. One of our biggest priorities is creating a space that feels safe, welcoming, and deeply nourishing.

Our care includes holistic, non-medical approaches to healing as well traditional, research based techniques. We don't believe that one is better than the other - but we do believe that different people heal best with different approaches, so we try our best to offer what would feel most supportive with your desire at the forefront!

We value your intuition and want you to have an experience that leaves you feeling seen and all your wishes respected. We are flexible with our sessions - that means one session can be all exercise, while another is all questions & answers, and the next is a combination of modalities!

Both virtual and in person sessions are available. In person sessions are limited to Southern New Jersey, our home base! Depending on what you need, there is a lot we can do virtually! So if you are outside of the NJ area, and want to experience our care, feel free to reach out!

Additionally, we encourage our PT clients to pair sessions with Pelvic Empowerment Coaching. This is what sets our pelvic healing journeys apart!

While PT is an opportunity to begin healing in the physical realm (alignment, strength, tension, etc.), coaching gives you the necessary space to tap into healing in the emotional and energetic realms (safety, pleasure, abundance, etc.).

I left traditional clinical practice because I noticed there was never any time for this side of healing (and insurance definitely wasn't paying for it)! And here at the Pelvic Empowerment Movement we believe that true empowerment comes from knowing, loving, and listening to all parts of you, not just the physical stuff.

So much of what we experience *physically* at the pelvis is influenced by our emotional and energetic state. Pelvic Empowerment gives you the space to start navigating those threads for well rounded healing!

If you are interested in receiving either of these services, but don't exactly know where to start feel free to reach out! We'd love to hear from you and help you find what's right for you!!


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