Most blogs before this have been articles we've found that contain information we think you will find useful. It is usually something backed by research but written into a story rather than a report. This month is a bit different, because it turns out, no one wants to talk about pelvic floor dysfunction except for hospitals and researchers. Apparently it's not a flashy puff piece that magazines like to run. Unless you have a diagnosis already, it is highly unlikely you know much of anything about pelvic floor dysfunction. Let's change that!
Before we dive in, I'd like to remind everyone that the body is made up of many systems that depend on each other and should work together always. If there is dysfunction in one area it is probably connected to a number of things, including postural habits, strength, range of motion, nutrition, chemical reactions, etc.
A lasting change happens only when the root cause is identified and both the cause and the symptoms are treated wholly
What is pelvic floor dysfunction:
"Pelvic floor dysfunction is the inability to correctly contract (tighten) and relax the muscles in the pelvic floor to have a bowel (or bladder) movement. The pelvic floor is a group of muscles in the floor of the pelvic area. These muscles support the organs in the pelvis, and some form a sling around the rectum and vagina.
The organs in this area include the bladder, uterus (women), prostate (men), and rectum (the area at the end of the large intestine where the body stores solid waste). By contracting and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles, you enable bowel and bladder movements.
People with pelvic floor dysfunction contract these muscles rather than relax them. Because of this, they have difficulty in evacuating a bowel movement, they have an incomplete bowel movement, or they may leak urine or stool." - Cleveland Clinic (https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/14459-pelvic-floor-dysfunction)
As you can see, this definition is geared towards women, but men can suffer from pelvic floor dysfunction too.
In the 7 years I've been providing massage therapy treatments I have come across many men and women that are experiencing some kind of incontinence or pelvic pain. At first, it seemed like it was mostly from folks that had experienced some kind of trauma to their pelvis - broken bones, torn muscles, and child birth being the most common. Most websites list these reasons as the main causes, but I would argue, that they are just the folks that are already talking to doctors about a related issue, so it is more easily diagnosed. As I continue to work with men and women of all ages, strengths and lifestyles, certain patterns seem to develop. These patterns have allowed me to almost predict when I would learn that someone who did not experience a trauma would tell me they experienced incontinence.
Here are some of the signs I noticed:
1) Tight and short hip flexors.
2) Externally rotated hips.
3) The need to recruit secondary muscles required for balance.
4) Extra recruitment of adductors.
Who I've seen often experience these symptoms:
1) High performing weekend warriors - crossfiters, olympic lifters, long distance bikers, marathoners, triathaloners, etc.
2) Folks that maintain one posture for a very long time - standing or sitting at a desk all day, frequent long distance traveler, surgeons, chefs, etc.
3) Someone who has experienced a trauma to their core, pelvic area or upper leg areas as described above.
This is not to say that if you do these activities you will have pelvic floor dysfunction. This list demonstrates the groups of folks that are more susceptible. Also, this isn't an all-inclusive list. If you experience pelvic pain or incontinence, talk to your doctor!! It is highly treatable.
Treatment and how massage can help:
Depending on the reason and type of dysfunction, treatments do vary. The most common treatment options include one or more below:
• Physical Therapy
• Home strengthening techniques
• Habit adjustment
Relaxation can mean many things, including stretching, yoga, and of course massage! Massage for pelvic floor dysfunction also varies. If one sees a physical therapist that specializes in pelvic floor dysfunction, it is likely that internal massage and manipulation will be used. At any point you can also get a therapeutic massage. At which time, focusing on releasing hip flexors, piriformis, and adductors should be the main focus of your treatment, but there's no harm in addressing other issues at the same time.
I hope you find this information helpful. If you have any questions, please reach out!
Team Massage by JMarie