Seeing a physical therapist after giving birth is America is not standard care, but it should be.
In France all women are seen and evaluated by a pelvic floor therapist after birth and often have 6 to 12 weeks of post-partum care. This approach to the care of women in my opinion should be part of every post-partum plan. Rehabilitating the pelvic floor after giving birth either vaginally or by cesarean section should be just as common as rehabbing a knee or shoulder after an injury or surgery to that area.
What Happens to the Body and the Pelvic Floor ?
The body during pregnancy is in a state of natural dysfunction. The body is going through major changes that include ligament laxity, weight gain, postural change, compressing of the abdominal organs as the baby grows, decreased breathing capacity, weakening of muscles that support the pelvic floor. The pelvic region is made up of muscles, ligaments and bone structures just like all other areas of the body. These structures undergo changes during pregnancy and birth. The pelvic floor muscles are so important as they act like a sling that hold up all of the organs in our abdominal cavity as well as support the back. During pregnancy they also have the job of holding up the growing baby, which places tremendous strain on those muscles which results in weakness. Birthing a baby although an amazing experience is very traumatizing to the area. When delivery time arrives these muscles are again taxed as they need to spread to allow for vaginal delivery and are impacted by the incision during a caesarian section. Often women in natural birth experience tearing and require sutures. All this leads to weakness that can have long lasting effects.
A cesarean section involves a very large incision in the abdominal region which results in scarring and can cause problems later down the line from the restrictions in the soft tissue known as the fascial restriction. This can lead to pelvic pain, pain with intercourse and urinary problems. Myofascial Release is an excellent manual therapy that can heal these problems.
Common Complaints Post-Partum
Common complaints post partum are urinary leakage, pelvic pain, back and or hip pain and overall weakness and fatigue. Separation of the abdominal muscle called diastis recti is common occurrence and treatable. Most of these issues are a result of the breakdown and weakness of the core of the body. This a specific group of muscles that need to act in unison and requires evaluation by a trained therapist to determine where the weakness is as well as how the muscles are working together. Return to “core exercise” classes without an individual evaluation can actually create more strain and weakness.
The good news is all of these things can be restored with a little help from a physical therapist trained in Women’s health. Pelvic pain, pain with sex, scarring, leakage when you laugh, sneeze or exercise should not be part of a woman’s “new normal”.
Find a Woman’s Health Physical therapist who can help relieve all of these issues, get rid of the pain and restore normal strength and mobility.
Fibromyalgia is a syndrome that causes chronic, muscle pain and fatigue. People who have this diagnosis often experience chronic diffuse pain throughout the body. Fibromyalgia is also associated with sleep disturbance, inflammation in the body, depression and overall feelings of helplessness. Often patient’s report a lack of concentration as well forgetfulness, which is termed “brain fog”. The diagnosis is made after all test have come up negative for any other cause. All too often this lack of test results to back up a diagnoses, has contributed to the sense by some that the disease is “all in your head.” Nothing can be further from the truth.
What is fascia an how does It play a role in helping ease the symptoms of this syndrome?
As a myofascial therapist I have long understood that results from imaging does not correlate to pain and symptoms. Restrictions in the facial system cannot be seen on X-Ray , MRI or other imaging. But these unseen restrictions, which can be felt by the therapist and the patient, have been measured to exert 2000 psi of pressure on sensitive structures in the body.
Think of the fascia as a continuous web of connective tissue. Spider web in shape and design. It surrounds all parts of the body, including nerves and muscles down to the tiniest cells. The fascia system has a constant flow of information from all the other systems in the body running through it much like a fiber optic network. Nerves which as super sensitive to pressure are embedded in the fascia. When the facial system starts to tightens it squeezes on the nerves and results in areas of pain and restriction. It is in these areas of restriction that information can no longer move freely. Now, not only is there pain, but the other systems in the body become involved. For example, the lymph system gets clogged and the inflammatory process in the body is exaggerated. Think of a garden hose with a kink in it. Without the ability for freedom of movement, pressure builds up and pain and inflammation are the end result.
How Do I get Fascial Restrictions?
Many things can cause fascial restriction but most commonly it is due to a trauma and or stress both physical and emotional. Often times the trauma and stress lives just below the level of consciousness so there is not an awareness that something is disrupting the balance of the body. There is a constant buildup of pressure in the system, interfering with its ability to function. Restrictions can be due to injury, surgery, repetitive movement, postural pulls on the body, accidents, emotional trauma and stress.
Research has shown that the nervous system has become sensitized when you have fibromyalgia and the result is an overactive pain response. The body is stuck in a cycle of pain, restriction more pain more restriction. Soon basic movement hurts and the person begins to avoid movement. Avoidance of movement causes more restriction.
Common treatment for fibromyalgia is mediation. This has limited success because it is not addressing the cause of the restriction which lies in the facial system. The result of the connective tissue contracting and producing restriction throughout the body.
For successful relief of pain, the facial system must be addressed and the restrictions opened. Once the system is released gentle mindful movement with breathing and self-releases for hom,help to keep your body open, free of restriction and moving more easily.
Not all myofascial release is the same. Find a therapist trained in the John Barnes Method and start regaining control of your life and living more joyfully.
Barbara Franzino is a licensed physical therapist who specializes in the John Barnes myofascial release method. Her unique approach to treatment is deeply rooted in the belief that unlocking the fascial system results in a powerful release of physical and emotional pain and restrictions. She has over 20 years experience treating a variety of conditions.
In my never ending endeavor to understand the wisdom of the human body, movement and health I have developed a method of treatment that assists the body's natural healing process. I have studied for over 20 years under many great teachers and my treatment method combines manual therapy, myofascial release and mindful movement to rid the body of pain and restore motion.