Pelvic Health Physiotherapy: Restoring Bowel Control and Well-being
Introduction: Bowel health is an essential component of overall well-being, and maintaining control over your bowel movements is crucial for a high quality of life. In this blog, we’ll delve into how pelvic health physiotherapy can be a lifeline for those facing challenges related to bowel control. Whether you’re experiencing incontinence, constipation, or the aftermath of childbirth, pelvic health physiotherapy offers a path to recovery and rejuvenation.
Factors Contributing to Bowel Incontinence: Bowel incontinence, which involves the loss of control over stool or gas, can result from various factors, including:
- Trauma during Childbirth: The physical stress of childbirth can strain pelvic floor muscles, contributing to incontinence.
- Lower Bowel or Gynecological Surgery: Surgical procedures in the lower abdomen may affect pelvic floor function.
- Neurological Conditions: Certain health issues affecting nerve function, such as diabetes, stroke, spina bifida, or multiple sclerosis, can lead to incontinence.
- Aging: As we age, a natural decrease in muscle bulk can impact bowel control.
- Radiotherapy: Medical treatments like radiotherapy can affect pelvic health.
- Digestive Issues: Long-lasting diarrhea, constipation, or hemorrhoids can contribute to incontinence.
- GI Disorders: Conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can exacerbate incontinence.
Pregnancy and Pelvic Floor Dysfunction: Pregnancy is a common cause of pelvic floor dysfunction, and individuals assigned female at birth (AFAB) often experience it post-birth. The strain on pelvic floor muscles during pregnancy and labor, especially during lengthy or challenging labor, can lead to dysfunction.
Empowering Your Pelvic Floor through Kegel Exercises: Kegel exercises are instrumental in strengthening pelvic floor muscles, supporting bladder and bowel control. They can help you manage or prevent incontinence. Here’s how to perform them:
- Begin by holding your pelvic floor muscles for 5 seconds, focusing on pulling in and lifting up your genitals.
- Avoid holding your breath during these exercises. Counting aloud can help you breathe naturally.
- After holding for 5 seconds, slowly and completely relax your muscles for 5 seconds.
- Repeat this process 10 times, at least 3 times every day.
Biofeedback for Holistic Recovery: Biofeedback, often administered with the guidance of a physical therapist, is a common treatment for pelvic floor dysfunction. The aim is to enhance muscle resting tone, strength, speed, bulk, and endurance.
To achieve these goals, you will engage in three types of contractions and explore techniques like rectal balloon training and sphincter exercises. These exercises focus on the anal sphincter muscle, improving bowel control.
Sphincter exercises involve:
- Locating your sphincter muscles by pretending to hold in a bowel movement.
- Squeezing the muscles as long as you can, relaxing between each squeeze.
- Holding for up to 10 seconds, repeating this up to 10 times.
- Squeezing the muscles as hard as you can and relaxing, repeating this up to 10 times.
Conclude each set of exercises three times a day. If you find them challenging initially, start with fewer repetitions and gradually increase them.
In summary, pelvic health physiotherapy offers a compassionate and effective path to reclaiming bowel control and overall well-being. Whether you’re addressing incontinence, constipation, or the effects of childbirth, this therapeutic approach empowers individuals to regain control, restore function, and lead healthier, happier lives.