Monday, February 12, 2018

Why you need a pelvic floor physio in your village

Meet Village member Trish Gipson MScPT, women’s health physiotherapist at Envision in Vancouver B.C.  

Trish has a special interest in pelvic floor health and is one of our ‘go to’ people when we have questions.  Trish has helped numerous moms-to-be and new moms return to an active lifestyle. 

We asked Trish how she helps women to enjoy the many benefits of an active pregnancy. “As a pelvic health physiotherapist, my aim is to keep women active during pregnancy and help them prepare their body for delivery. If they are having aches and pains related to the pregnancy, I help them manage their symptoms and get back to their desired level of activity. If they are wondering what is the best type of exercise to do, I can give them advice on that. I like to teach them ways to maintain optimal posture and movement mechanics with the exercises that they are doing, and how to prepare their body for delivery and for the early post partum period.”

We also asked Trish what exercise advice she gives to pregnant women.  “In terms of pelvic health, the biggest piece of advice I can give is to remember that there are multiple functions of the pelvic floor muscles; they need to be able to contract (for support of the pelvic organs, to maintain continence, and to help with support of the skeleton), they need to be able to relax (in order to go to the bathroom, have intercourse, deliver a baby vaginally), and they need to be able lengthen with function (eg: the pelvic floor muscles need to lengthen while still maintaining support when you are performing a squat).

Historically most of the emphasis has been on the contraction part, and many women have spent a lot of time preparing for and recovering from delivery by doing pelvic floor strengthening exercises. I would argue that the focus should be, leading up to delivery, on learning to relax the pelvic floor muscles (though it is important to make sure that the muscles are able to perform all three functions well).

To work on relaxing the pelvic floor, try taking some deep breaths, focusing on relaxing the belly and the pelvic floor as you inhale (visualize the diaphragm lowering as you inhale, which pushes down on the abdominal organs, then the pelvic floor softens to absorb this descent), then exhale through an open mouth to try to maintain that relaxation. Take 10 or so breaths like this each night leading up to your delivery. (Read more about core breath and your pelvic floor here)

For the most individualized advice, it is best to get assessed by a pelvic health physiotherapist, as every individual and each pregnancy is different.”

At Fit 4 Two we also believe that all women should have a physiotherapist assessment postpartum.  We recommend booking an apt for 6-8 weeks after your due date before easing back into a postnatal specific fitness program.  If your goal is to run or do other high impact exercises, we recommend building your base of support at a postnatal fitness program for at least 8 weeks and then having a 2nd assessment by your physiotherapist to see if you need to correct any muscular imbalances before easing into a run/walk program. Our resources page is an excellent place to find physiotherapists specializing in women's health.

You can learn more about Trish Gipson and Envision Physiotherapy here.

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