Pelvic Health Physiotherapy – A Lifestyle Medicine Approach
By Carolyn Vandyken
PT, Educator, Researcher, Advocate
Although the changing healthcare landscape requests for all healthcare providers to embrace a lifestyle medicine approach in their respective practices, pelvic health physiotherapists are particularly called to this need. Lifestyle medicine refers to an evidence-based practice approach of assisting individuals and families to adopt and sustain behaviours that can improve and promote optimal health. The four pillars of Lifestyle Medicine consist of: Exercise; Nutrition; Behaviour Change; and Self-care. Pelvic health physiotherapists approach their practices from this comprehensive lens. Ultimately this means to get people well, pelvic health physiotherapists attend to the pelvic structures (including the pelvic floor of course!) but extend their attention well beyond these borders.
So, what does this mean? What should I expect when I come see a pelvic health physiotherapist?
1. Expect to be listened to and to learn
We get the majority of the information we need to connect the dots of your health status from you. Whether it is infertility, pelvic pain, chronic fatigue or digestive issues, we listen, and along the way will help you understand how the altered physiology in one system affects another and assist you to understand what is happening in your body.
2. Expect to be a participant – the MVP actually – of your health promotion plan
Utilizing various strategies to assist you modify your daily life rhythm (habits and behaviors) to support your health, we help you to understand why and how to prioritize your own health. We collaborate with you to co-create actionable steps that often include specific exercise prescription and nutrition advice and often a referral for more tailored advice from a naturopath/functional medicine doctor.
3. Expect to find hope and resolve
Lifestyle medicine is effective! Pelvic health physiotherapists have advanced training in obstetrics, urogynaecology, and pain science among many other areas. We understand the integration of systems and appreciate the intuitive intelligence of the human body – that it wants to be healthy and vital and needs basic foundational elements for health to be restored. We are uniquely positioned to offer people more comprehensive lifestyle-related education including exercise, nutrition, and sleep. We understand that education about these health constructs is not enough and that we need to empower our clients and ensure they have the self-efficacy and support to carry out their own action plans.
Pelvic health physiotherapists confidently and effectively support people to optimize their pelvic health from a lifestyle medicine approach. Using integrative tools to support optimal digestive, hormonal, immune, and neuromuscular system health, we are here to help you restore the health of your pelvis and beyond.