Starting Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy

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Pelvic floor muscle

My radiation treatment caused my bladder to leak a little. So I’m starting physical therapy to strengthen my pelvic floor muscles and stop the leak.

Well I had my first physical therapy (PT) session the other day. While my hospital has a pretty good size PT division, there are only 2 therapists who specialize in pelvic floor muscles. Normally I don’t care if a medical pro is male or female, however, in this case I appreciate that both therapists are women. I felt way more comfortable talking about my challenges after radiation treatment and asking very specific questions that I won’t detail here.

I’ve mentioned before that my pelvic floor muscles are more important than ever after my hysterectomy. Thanks to my radiation therapy, strengthening my pelvic muscles has become more urgent. The radiation caused my bladder to leak a little when I sneeze or cough.

Not cool!

Leaky Bladder – There’s An Exercise For That!
My therapist evaluated the overall strength of my pelvic region by looking at how I walk, stand and shifted my legs when laying down. The only downside was the pelvic exam itself. It does seem like every time I go into a medical office these days my legs go straight into the stirrups. Ugh!

I knew my therapist was awesome when she told me I normally cross my left leg over my right after she examined my hips. Now that is quite the party trick!

The awesome news is my pelvic floor is in good shape – the pelvis and abductor muscles are super strong. The 4 incision points from my surgery are healing up well providing me good mobility. However my hips need some work, as does the inside of my vagina (I know TMI). Finally my lower lumbar muscles are waaaaayyyy too tight, which explains some mild lower back pain.

My therapist recommends a new exercise – The Knack. Basically it’s kagels on steroids. To do the Knack, I’ll contract my 3 pelvic openings (urethra, vagina and anus), hold for 10 seconds and then relax. This is what women’s bodies do naturally before we cough or sneeze.

However my therapist added an additional move. After relaxing the pelvic openings I then push or expand them and hold for 10 seconds while breathing through my diaphragm.

Like kagels, The Knack and be done anywhere. With some daily work, my leaky bladder should clear up before the end of November. Sweet!

Working On My Problem Areas
To strengthen my hips and loosen up my lower lumbar, my therapist recommends I start yoga back up. Plus yoga should help with my stress levels. Stress is a problem for women in menopause. Cortisol levels become elevated. I’ve noticed that I stress out a lot more than normal since the surgery and radiation treatment.

As an added bonus, cortisol also adds more fat to your abdominal area.

Definitely not cool!

My initial thought was to exercise more, but cortisol increases during exercise. And I’ve read that post-exercise cortisol levels don’t drop below menopausal elevated levels. Grrrrr!

Unlike regular exercise, yoga includes meditation. I’m not very good at that part, mostly because I’ve never given it a shot. Well it can’t hurt. And since when is relaxing a bad thing?

I’m looking forward to this weekend. The husband and I are planning a fun, stress free weekend as we start transforming my former workout room, which is now an office/storage area. The goal is to transform it back into workout with small craft space (sewing lessons here I come!).

The more inviting the space, the more likely I’ll want to spend time in it.

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