How Can the Trunk & Pelvic Floor Work Together?


Concepts in "core" strengthening have been discussed ubiquitously, and clearly there is value in being accurate with a clinical treatment strategy, both for reasons of avoiding worsening of a dysfunctional movement or condition, and for engaging the patient in an appropriate rehabilitation activity. Because each patient presents with a unique clinical challenge, we do not (and may never) have reliable clinical protocols for trunk and pelvic rehabilitation. Rather, reliance upon excellent clinical reasoning skills combined with examination and evaluation, then intervention skills will remain paramount in providing valuable therapeutic approaches.

Even (and especially) for the therapist who is not interested in learning how to assess the pelvic floor muscles internally for purposes of diagnosis and treatment, how can an "external" approach to patient care be optimized to understand how the pelvic floor plays a role in core rehabilitation, and when does the patient need to be examined by a therapist who can provide internal examination and treatment if deemed necessary? There are many valuable continuing education pathways to address these questions, including courses offered by the Herman & Wallace Institute that instruct in concepts focusing on neuromotor coordination and learning based in clinical research.

One article that helps us understand how the trunk can be affected by the pelvic floor was completed in 2002 by Critchley and describes how, in the quadruped position, activation of the pelvic floor muscles increased thickness in the transversus abdominis muscles. Subjects were instructed in a low abdominal hallowing maneuver while the transversus abdominis, obliquus internus, and obliquus externus muscle thickness was measured by ultrasound. While no significant changes were noted in obliques muscle thickness, transversus abdominis average measures increases from 49.71% to 65.81% when pelvic floor muscle contraction was added to the abdominal hollowing. Clinical research such as this helps us to understand how verbal cues and concurrent muscle activation may affect exercise prescription.

A collection of clinical research concepts such as the article by Critchley is valuable in connecting points of function and dysfunction for patients with trunk and pelvic conditions- a large part of many clinicians' caseloads. The Pelvic Floor Pelvic Girdle continuing education course instructs in foundational research concepts that tie together the orthopedic connections to the pelvic floor including lumbopelvic stability and mobility therapeutic exercises. Common conditions such as coccyx pain and other pelvic floor dysfunctions are instructed along with pelvic floor screening, use of surface EMG biofeedback, and risk factors for pelvic dysfunction. If you would like to pull together concepts in lumbopelvic stability with your current internal pelvic muscle skills, OR if you would like to attend this course to learn external approaches, you can sign up for the class that takes place in late September in Atlanta.


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