By now, I’m sure you’ve heard the term “pelvic floor/ health physiotherapy” floating around. If you’ve been looking to learn more about this service or are curious to what it entails, please keep reading! I hope to give you an idea of what pelvic floor physiotherapy is, what an assessment may look like, and how it can help you optimize your health and performance as a Crossfit athlete!
WHAT IS PELVIC FLOOR PHYSIOTHERAPY?
A physiotherapist who can perform pelvic floor assessments undergoes special post-graduate training to be able to perform not just an external, but also internal assessment of the pelvis and pelvic floor. The pelvic floor is a group of muscles that are located in the pelvis that are responsible for support, stability, sexual function, and sphincteric control. While the pelvis may be the focus, we also take into account the other joints (e.g the hips/ spine/ ribs/ knees) to best diagnose and start you on a path to resolving your complaint.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE PELVIC FLOOR DYSFUNCTION?
Pelvic floor dysfunction can occur in any population, not just pre/post natal! Common symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction include incontinence (leaking of urine, feces, or gas), pain (vulvar, testicular, hip, etc.), heaviness/ pressure/ feeling like something is “falling out”, and dyspareunia (pain with intercourse).
Common reasons for seeing Crossfitters include:
- Leaking with double unders, box jumps, or quick transition movements
- Heaviness/ pressure with heavy lifts, deeper squatting
- Exercise modifications or guidance in the pre/post natal periods
- Difficulty with core engagement in exercises such hollow hold rocks, dead bugs
- Lower back pain in heavy lifts (while not always related to the pelvic floor, poor pressure management can lead to or exacerbate the lower back)
WHAT DOES A PELVIC FLOOR ASSESSMENT LOOK LIKE?
A pelvic floor assessment, like any physiotherapy assessment, starts with a thorough subjective history, but with more of a deep dive into bowel/ bladder, fluid intake, diet, and sexual health. This can all tell us a lot about your pelvic health before even doing an examination. We then look at how you move through the lumbopelvic region, hips, diaphragm/ ribs, and any other external assessment we deem appropriate based on your symptoms.
In regards to the pelvic exam itself, it is client guided depending on your comfort level. Consent is VERY important and continuous throughout the assessment. While an internal pelvic exam is the gold standard and provides a lot of valuable information, we can also learn a great deal from your history and external assessment, thus I would never want someone to miss out on the education that can be provided because of anxiety around the exam. Your comfort is most important!
I hope that has provided you a bit more information on pelvic floor physiotherapy and what it can offer to you, your peers, friends and family! While this article was tailored to the Crossfitter, obviously anyone with a pelvis is welcome!
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to [email protected].