Women’s health physical therapy is a form of care that is frequently overlooked. Many pelvic floor conditions and disorders are extremely common, but often women choose not to seek help. Why is this? Some say because they are embarrassed and others say that they don’t believe good treatment options exist. Needless to say, at AmeriCare we want women to feel comfortable discussing these concerns and we want to make sure you feel taken care of. We have listed some quick steps to help you determine if you could benefit from women’s health physical therapy.
How to determine when you should get help:
Ask yourself if you are experiencing any of the conditions listed below. If you say yes to any of them, you could benefit from women’s health physical therapy.
Peeing when coughing, sneezing, or exercising
A sense of urgency to use the restroom
Low back pain
Bowel or bladder dysfunction
Who should you see?
Women’s Health Physical Therapists
Specialists who evaluate and treat women with a tailored understanding of their physiological differences and the impact of hormones on specific conditions and recovery.
What your treatment may look like:
Women’s Health physical therapy encompasses a combination of biofeedback, manual therapy, relaxation techniques, therapeutic exercises, and neuromuscular training that can address a variety of conditions including incontinence, osteoporosis, prolapse, menopause, pregnancy, and pelvic pain.
Strengthening the muscles of the pelvic floor can reduce stress and urinary incontinence symptoms
Core and lumbar strengthening can reduce low back pain during or after pregnancy
Biofeedback can help to retrain contraction and relaxation of pelvic muscles
Comprehensive home exercise programs and educational materials to manage symptoms at home
Now more than ever, it is important to highlight the benefits of exercise and physical activity on our mental health. Mental health involves an individual’s emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Furthermore, there are many factors that contribute to the status of an individual’s mental health. As physical therapists, we focus on improving the brain’s natural chemistry through exercise.
How the brain responds to exercise
When we exercise, natural chemicals called neurotransmitters are released in the brain.
Serotonin positively impacts mood
Norephinephrine improves alertness and focus
Dopamine increases motivation
Endorphins are “feel-good” chemicals
The link between exercise and stress
Research shows that exercise decreases stress and reduces anxiety and depression.
Encourages participationin positive social interactions
Provides healthy coping mechanisms
Physical Therapy helps
Whether you are a beginner or a competitive athlete, being consistent is the most important thing. Physical therapists help by holding you accountable and working together to reach your goals.
For beginners, getting starting can be hard. But, we are here to help! Here are 3 tips that assist with getting started.
Set a Goal: Understand what you want to achieve by exercising
Pick an Activity: Make sure to have fun!
Pro Tip: Exercise with a buddy! Pick a family or friend who will exercise with you
How do you ensure that you are getting the most out of physical therapy?
When you are seeing help from a physical therapist it is critical to make sure that you are advocating for yourself. Here at AmeriCare we want to make sure that all of our patients are cared for in the way that they deserve. Whether you have a new injury or chronic discomfort, we want to help you get the most out of your care.
Finding the Right Clinic for YOU:
Doing your research is extremely important at this stage. Many physicians have lists of physical therapy clinics that are close in proximity, but not all clinics or therapists are equal
Look up clinic reviews on google/yelp
Understand what others are saying about the clinic in regards to: cleanliness, friendliness, and staff credentials
Visit the physical therapy clinic’s website
Physically visit a facility and take a tour to ensure that the site is a good fit for you
Ask the clinic if you can speak with your physical therapist before your first appointment to get an understanding of their style and criteria
Now that you have found the right clinic for you, what should you ask on your first day?
How long is each therapy session?
Will you be seeing the same therapist on each visit to the clinic? Remember, consistency of care is important.
Who will be responsible for your daily care? Will it be the therapist or an aide? You definitely want to make sure that your therapist spends enough 1-on-1 time with you.
Do you need to communicate with your physician and how often you need to do so?
What your first visit should look like:
Thorough intake of your medical history including medications, special tests, previous therapy, and living situation
Your therapist should demonstrate good listening skills and ask you what your goals are for physical therapy. Team work is dream work!
You will get a home exercise program on day 1. All exercises should be done with the therapist’s supervision at the clinic and then a written or video format of the exercise will be given to you.
At the end of the session, you and your therapist should come up with a treatment plan including the frequency of sessions and the length of treatment. Bring your calendar with you to schedule your appointments.
Always keep in mind that as the patient, you are an integral part of your physical therapy experience and outcome. Quality care is a partnership between the your skilled physical therapist and consistent hard work and effort outside of the clinic from you.
How does Physical Therapy Help with Breastfeeding?
Supporting women during breastfeeding is not easy. A lot of new moms struggle with it and often feel that other people don’t understand their story. Here at AmeriCare, we want to make sure all mommas are heard and feel good through their breastfeeding journey. It is #WorldBreastfeedingWeek and we want to share some insights from our very own Women’s Health and Pelvic Floor specialist, Dr. Amita Mali. She has learned a lot about this topic through her vast physical therapy experience and fellowship as well as through being a new mom herself.
Common Encounters During Your Breastfeeding Journey:
Neck and mid back pain with nursing
Position and duration while nursing can determine the frequency of pain episodes
One sided breast pain with discharge from the nipple is not normal and may warrant physician consult
Occasional engorgement and associated discomfort and pain in a breast may indicate blocked duct
A consult with a Physical Therapist trained in Women’s health conditions can help you identify and resolve aches and pains
Can Physical Therapy Enhance your Breastfeeding Journey?
YES! Physical Therapy can help with the following things:
Optimize Positioning for Baby and Mama: Always bring the baby to you with the use of pillows or propping. You want to avoid slouching down to the baby. Keep your shoulders and back supported. Maintain a neutral neck position (we say adore that scrumptious baby, but also make sure you look back up every few minutes). Lastly, make sure those arms are supported by pillows as well.
Identify Signs of Infection: You can develop mastitis more easily when your milk ducts are backed up. Physical therapists can help to ID, treat, and determine when meeting a physician or lactation consultant is necessary.
Help with Any Pain or Discomfort: Looking down too much can definitely cause strain on your neck and back. Luckily, we are able to help you with managing your pain and utilizing exercises that can really help decrease it.
Relaxation Advice: Now that we have covered positioning, infection, and pain/discomfort the next thing to focus on is relaxation. You and your baby are all set up, so try to allow your muscles to relax and soften in places where you feel tension. Try doing some deep breaths while simultaneously focusing on relaxing specific areas of your body. This time for you and your little one will be true bliss.
Don’t let being stuck in quarantine keep you from your exercise goals. Here is a quick and efficient 10 minute workout that is low impact on your joints and will improve your total body muscle strength. The CDC recommends to perform muscle strengthening activities a minimum of 2 days a week.
Strengthening in combination with aerobic exercise can achieve even more health benefits.
Do each movement for 20 seconds for 4 rounds and 30 seconds rest in between each round.
Technique:Start with hands directly under shoulders and slowly lower chest to ground then return to starting position.
Modification: use a smaller range of motion and perform “mini” squats within tolerance
Technique: Start with forearms on the ground, directly under your shoulders, keeping your spine in alignment and head/neck in neutral. Be sure to keep your core and glutes engaged and maintain position for 20 seconds.
Muscles Strengthened: transverse and rectus abdominis, erector spinae, deltoids, quadriceps
Modification: perform with knees on the ground
Technique: Start seated at the edge of a sturdy chair or low table and slide your butt off of the edge of the chair so that only your hands are on the chair. Keep your legs straight in front of you and begin to slowly bend your elbows and lower yourself towards the ground before straightening your arms to lift back up.
Modification: do not bend as far into lunge position; 10 second hold each side
Technique: Begin on your back with your knees in a tabletop position. Use your core strength to bring your elbow towards your opposite knee before extending the leg back out. Be sure to keep your core engaged throughout the exercise so that your lower back does not lift off of the floor.
Tricks to Maintain Good Sitting Posture While Working From Home
With the COVID-19 Pandemic “Stay at Home” guidelines, many of us are working from home until further notice. Working 8+ hours on the computer while sitting in a chair can significantly impact posture and increase lower back pain, neck pain, as well as increase the frequency and duration of headaches. It is important to develop good posture when working from home, this will help alleviate pain and promote an active lifestyle without discomfort.
4 Tips to Remember:
Keep your hips and knees at a 90 degree angle with the floor and make sure that your feet are securely on the ground.
Pro Tip: If your feet just don’t touch the floor, grab a stool and place it underneath your feet to ensure that your hips and knees are in proper alignment
Keep your computer screen level with your eyesand an arm’s length distance from you to avoid excessive eye strain and headaches.
Pro Tip: If you are working on a laptop, you can place it on a stand or some books in order to maintain the height at eye level
Keeping your wrists in neutral and in line with elbows will take pressure off of the wrists and fingers which can reduce symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow.
Pro Tip: Stretch out your wrists every 1-2 hours to reduce stiffness and further pain.
Pro Tip: Walk around every 1-2 hours, do some jumping jacks, and if you absolutely cannot take a standing break be sure to look away from your screen and stretch for at least 20-30 seconds.
Reminder: If you are experiencing low back pain, neck pain, or headaches and would like to prevent such pain in the future, physical therapistscan perform a full postural assessment and provide exercises that will relieve pain and bring you back to the lifestyle you enjoy.
Note: Assessments can be completed through online services.
We all know that regular exercise keeps us healthy, but did you know that exercise improves productivity in your work and personal life too? It helps curb that afternoon nap you so desperately look forward to, helps you reduce the 2pm coffee break, and increases your mental capacity to help you get through your projects efficiently and with ease.
Physical Exercise Definition: any bodily activity that enhances or maintains fitness and overall health and wellness.
Regular exercise has a multitude of physical benefits, including but not limited to improvements in cardiovascular endurance and decreased the risk of “diseases of affluence” — heart disease, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. In addition, physical exercise improves mental health, helps with depression and promotes positive self esteem.
Can Exercise Improve Your Mood?
After that sweaty spin class or long hike in the woods, endorphins are released. Endorphinsare natural stress reducers and there are studies there to prove it. Exercise enhances mood, combats fatigue, and improves performance thus leading to fewer workday mishaps.
It also combats chronic stress something that is common among many working people. Recently, companies have been implementing “movement as medicine” interventions like using standing desks and offering time for exercise during work hours to improve productivity.
Movement is medicine
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week for a healthy lifestyle, which averages 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each day. Check out the list below for some guidance on how to boost your mood and efficiency through physical activity!
Walking is the most convenient way to get in that daily dose of endorphins!
Make it Happen: Take a quick 20-30 minute walk during your lunch break. You will see tremendous improvements in your productivity and a drop in the afternoon slump.
Low Intensity Aerobic Exercise:
Swimming, jogging and step aerobics are common low intensity aerobic exercises. Fatigue levels are lower with those who exercise at a lower intensity. Sometimes, less is more.While high-intensity workouts are great for weight loss, low to moderate aerobic exercises are better for work productivity.
Make it Happen: Join your local YMCA or gym and swim for 20-30 minutes 3-4 times a week.
Studies show that combining aerobic exercise with resistance training exercise increases brain function and overall work productivity. Using weights increases blood flow to the muscles and the brain, which improves alertness during work. This increased sharpness increases your ability to stay focused on tasks.
Make it Happen: Split your strength training days by body group. For example, Monday train legs, Wednesday train upper body, and Friday train full body.
Flexibility training like yoga can help improve mental clarity. Improving flexibility has been shown to improve self-esteem and motivation, which in turn increases a person’s ability to cope with stress, increases creativity and ability to problem solve with higher energy levels.
Make it Happen: The key to flexibility training is consistency and progress! Set small goals for yourself and enjoy the wins.
The bottom line:
Short bursts of exercise are easier to add to your daily routine, so pick something you enjoy rather than seeing your exercise as another chore. You are exercising to increase your mood energy to improve work productivity, so less is more. In addition, working out in the morning or at lunchtime may be more beneficial than working out at the end of the day. Taking the time to exercise keeps you mentally sharp, combats mental fog, and fatigue.