It is a non-surgical approach to rehabilitation of dysfunction in the pelvis that contribute to bowel, bladder, sexual health, and pain complaints. Approaches may include behavioral therapies, manual therapies, modalities, therapeutic exercises, functional re-training, and education.
The pelvic floor muscles are located between the tailbone (coccyx) and the pubic bone within the pelvis. They support the bowel and bladder (as well as the uterus and vagina in females).
Muscular bands (sphincters) encircle the urethra, vagina and anus as they pass through the pelvic floor. When the pelvic floor muscles are contracted, the internal organs are lifted and the sphincters tighten the openings of the vagina, anus and urethra. Relaxing the pelvic floor can allow for easy passage of urine and faeces. The pelvic floor muscles are very important in sexual function with a relaxation/ contraction combination allowing fun and pleasureable sex.
If your pelvic floor muscles are not functioning well, the internal organs will lack full support. This may stop you from being able to control your urine, faeces or wind.
Common causes of a weakened pelvic floor include pregnancy, childbirth, prostate cancer treatment in males, obesity and the associated straining of chronic constipation.
Pelvic floor exercises are designed to improve your muscle tone. In addition they improve your brain connection to these muscles. Doing these exercises may prevent the need for corrective surgery.
The pelvic floor muscles are needed to help support the bowel and bladder organs in men and women, as well as the uterus in women. These muscles stretch from the pubic bone towards the tail bone. There are many reasons why someone may experience dysfunction or loosening of these muscles which can include obesity, increased aged, lifting too much weight, high impact exercises, exerting too much force while on the toilet, chronic coughing, as well as giving birth and pregnancy for women.
Physical therapy was officially recognized as a profession during World War I when female civilian employees of the U.S. Army were tasked with rehabilitating injured soldiers using primarily massage techniques. They were called reconstruction aides or re-aides and were assistants to physicians rather than today’s autonomous profession.
Can you imagine your physical therapist working in a skirt? That was the challenge for the first physical therapists in the U.S.
Marguerite Sanderson directed the first reconstruction aides at the Division of Physical Reconstruction. She led the political battle for proper uniformed attire by presenting her case to Senators and Congressman about the practicality of allowing reconstruction aides to work in uniformed bloomers rather than skirts — and lost.
In 1918, Mary McMillan became the first reconstruction aide and went on to develop the Physiotherapy Department at Walter Reed General Hospital. But the program was dismantled when the war was over.