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Me? A Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist?

If you know me, you know I love talking about my feelings. Just kidding! It’s probably one of my least favorite things to do. I prefer sarcasm and climbing mountains (like Half Dome in Yosemite, pictured above!). However, I can’t talk about why I became a pelvic floor physical therapist without (to at least a small degree) talking about feelings. So, with some feelings included, here’s the story of how and why I became a pelvic floor physical therapist.

The Start of Pelvic Floor Symptoms

About two years ago, right before I ran in my second half marathon, I started to get a pain in my butt. I remember it acutely – I was doing a drill to activate my glutes before the run and I felt a pull. The pull was minor, but it was present.

The race started and I forgot about the pain. It was also downpouring and the winds were blowing upwards of 20 miles per hour, so I was slightly distracted. Once the rain lessened, I could feel it again. Each time my foot hit the ground, there was a twinge.

half marathon
Me being me, I kept running (you would think being a physical therapist would stop you from doing stupid things, but it really doesn’t – it just gives you more education to know exactly how far you can push it!). The pain increased a bit, but – thankfully – it didn’t get above moderate. The race ended, the pain lessened, and I forgot about it.

At least, I forgot about the pain until I ran again. Sure enough, it came back. Again, me being me, I did nothing and ran right through it. This pattern of running with pain and ignoring it continued until it started to affect other things. At first, my ability to CrossFit without pain started to diminish. Then, I started having pain while sitting.

Asking for Help from a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist

After letting the pain increase to the point where I was sitting on one butt cheek, I finally described my symptoms to Emily and asked if I should see a pelvic floor physical therapist. She appeared amused (probably because this is a case example of exactly what not to do) and because I had all the resources at my fingertips but wasn’t using them – at least yet!

She, of course, told me I probably should get my symptoms checked out. And, I actually did. I completed a course of pelvic floor physical therapy and my symptoms – to my surprise – resolved quite nicely.

pelvic floor exam
Well, they resolved for about four months! During those four months, occasionally I would get twinges, but it wasn’t anything noteable. I could run, CrossFit, and sit without modifying my activity.

All was well until I started training for a marathon last summer. Running is an activity that requires a lot from the pelvic floor, so the return of my symptoms was not surprising. But, the how of the return of symptoms was surprising.

If you’re interested, you can check out what the experience was like here. To make a long story short, it was not pleasant.

Last summer, it looked like the symptoms were coming from my low back and irritating my sciatic nerve. So, the therapist I saw (a different one than I saw for pelvic floor), treated my back and my nerve.

We made progress and got the symptoms under control, but they never fully resolved. I had lingering numbness and occasional pelvic pain – similar to the symptoms that I had earlier that year when I saw a pelvic floor physical therapist.

pelvic floor physical therapist

Pelvic Floor Symptoms Come Full Circle

After a full-on flare up in March of this year where I couldn’t sit at all for over a week again, I had a hunch that there was more to my nerve symptoms than just back pain or nerve irritation. I started to wonder – is there a pelvic floor component as well?

The odds of that seemed plausible to me at the time. I had pelvic pain on and off for about two years, so there could be something. But, I also didn’t fit the ‘typical’ profile. I’ve never been pregnant and don’t have incontinence. If you were to go through a pelvic floor screening tool, they only box you would check is “pain in the pelvis area.”

After two months of letting the nerve settle down, I bit the bullet and pursued pelvic floor physical therapy – again. It was frustrating to me to invest a fair amount of money in treatment of my leg/back/numbness last year only to be back at square one. But, I also wanted relief and from having worked with lots of people who have recurring issues, I knew relief was possible.

Not surprisingly, getting treatment provided relief. And, while my pelvic pain was being a pain in the butt, something else happened. Our pelvic floor client number drastically grew. It grew beyond the amount that Emily could see on her own.

pelvic floor physical therapy

Becoming a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist

The solution was obvious. I had pelvic floor training in the past, but didn’t pursue being a pelvic floor physical therapist because I didn’t feel like I could connect with clients who had pelvic floor symptoms. Part of what seperates us at Resilience is having unique knowledge and personal experience of the area we are treating. I lacked the experience and it just didn’t feel authentic to me.

Now, it does. And, going through the material again and learning more about the nature of pelvic pain and who is at higher risk for pelvic pain, makes it resonate even more.

So, I’m a bit nervous, but also excited to call myself a pelvic floor physical therapist. It’s something I never would have thought I would pursue, but life has a funny way of surprising us at times!