Steve Dischiavi sits down with Holly Tanner to discuss his remote course - Athletes and Pelvic Rehabilitation.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?
I’ve been with Herman & Wallace now for about 10 years teaching various forms of this course [Athletes & Pelvic Rehabilitation] in terms of the pelvic floor content bridging the sports medicine world. With me not being an internal physical therapist, it’s been kind of a unique situation having been involved with H&W for so long.
I’m a manually trained orthopedic and sports PT, board-certified through the APTA, Athletic Trainer, PT. I’ve got my masters in PT, went back and got my doctoral degree in PT and now I’m pursuing my Ph.D. and doing some research. My professional background includes ten years of treating outpatient ortho and running clinics for big corporate entity types of places. Then I went for ten years of pro sports with the NHL.
This is really how I got linked into H&W because of all of the hip and pelvic disorders I was dealing with and interacting with pelvic floor therapists. That’s where the blend of pelvic floor content merging with sports medicine came into play for my course Athletes & Pelvic Rehabilitation & Pelvic Rehabilitation.
If I’m an internal pelvic health practitioner, why would I want to go take a course with someone who doesn’t even do that?
I’ve always respected that question. When I look at my course the thing that will attract the experienced physical therapist that is doing internal pelvic health care, would be the amount of consideration that goes into the design of the therapeutic exercise. Specifically how some of the latest research should be impacting the exercises directed at the pelvic floor. For example, those are the relationships between the lower extremity and the pelvic and the lower back, and how does the lumbopelvic-hip complex influence the pelvic floor. When we start looking at exercise prescriptions, specifically for the athletic population, the massive amount of complexity that goes into athletic movement typically is not reflected in the therapeutic exercises in the way we deliver them.
I tie those two roles together in an update on some of the most contemporary evidence concerning lumbopelvic-hip exercise prescription with the specific implications to the pelvic floor, and what should the pelvic floor therapist be thinking about when they start prescribing more global appreciation of exercises specific to that region.
Many of the people who take the Athlete course are first-time H&W course takers. What I see sometimes that they say is that oftentimes they are not internal pelvic floor practitioners. They don’t have the career trajectory to want to do internal work, but like myself, they know that the pelvic floor is an integral part of how athletes perform. I provide a kinematic vision from the entire lower extremity kinematic chain, up through the lumbopelvic-hip region, and how simple concepts like length-tension relationships can alter how the pelvic floor functions.
What is the philosophy that shows up in shifting the chronic pain experience?
One of the unique patterns that we see is that when the exercises are delivered more rotationally when the joint is loaded it seems to have a very interesting effect on the pelvic floor itself. So some of these same benefits that you get in the hip you see in your pelvic floor and other parts of the body. The transitional positions such as half and tall kneeling offer great opportunities to get the best of both worlds where you can be in a relatively stable pattern but still be loaded in the pelvic and the hip joint. It allows a nice transition of exercises between lower-level stability exercises and higher-level athletic-looking exercises.
A lot of times by the end of the course people will say that seems to be the transition that they really like. Now they see a way to get their patients off the table but not doing such high-level exercises that are aggravating to the patient. These transitional positions are a nice place to see some of these neurologic changes in the lumbopelvic hip region and carry over to more athletic maneuvers.
Athletes and Pelvic Rehabilitation is scheduled five more times this year in 2022!
The hip flexor muscles include the Iliopsoas group (Psoas Major, Psoas Minor, and Iliacus), Rectus Femoris, Pectineus, Gracillis, Tensor Fascia Latae, and Sartorius. When the hip flexors are tight it can cause tension on the pelvic floor. This can pull on the lower back and pelvis as well as change the orientation of the hip socket, lead to knee pain, foot pain, bladder leakage, prolapse, and so much more. The ramifications of iliacus and iliopsoas dysfunctions are discussed in a contemporary and evidence-based model with Steve Dischiavi in the Athletes & Pelvic Rehabilitation remote course.
A common issue with the iliacus and hip flexors is that they can shorten over time due to a lack of stretching or a sedentary lifestyle. When this happens, the muscle adapts by becoming short, dense, and inflexible and can have trouble returning to its previous resting length. A muscle that resides in this chronic contraction can become ischemic, develop trigger points, and distort movement in the body.
If you are treating patients with pain in their lower abdomen, sacroiliac joint, or that wraps around the lower back and buttocks, it could be because the hip flexors are tight. Traditional testing performed by medical practitioners tends to come back negative as many tests do not evaluate soft tissue issues. The best way to diagnose these concerns is through assessment with skilled palpation and structural evaluation.
One assessment test, the Thomas Test used for measuring the flexibility of the hip flexors, is discussed in the Athletes & Pelvic Rehabilitation course. In this test, the patient is supine while flexing the unaffected, contralateral leg at the hip until lumbar lordosis disappears. The length of the iliopsoas is determined by the angle of hip flexion displayed by the patient. The test is positive when the patient is unable to keep their lower back and sacrum against the table, the hip has a posterior tilt (or hip extension) greater than 15°, or the knee is unable to meet more than 80° flexion. A positive test indicates a decrease in flexibility iliopsoas muscles.
Treatment plans for the iliacus and hip flexors include stretching. An example includes the hip extension stretch or other active isolated stretches. Manual therapy, including trigger point release, can be used in conjunction with stretching to help muscle adhesion and release muscle tension. As with all treatment, the practitioner should discuss the risks, benefits, and treatment options, and obtain consent with patients. Prior to proceeding with manual therapy treatment make sure to establish a pain scale, assess the patient's range of motion and strength, and (if needed) perform the appropriate neurologic testing.
To learn more about treatment philosophies for the pelvis and pelvic floor and global considerations of how these structures contribute to human movement you can join Steve Dischiavi in the Athletes & Pelvic RehabilitationRemote Course.
You may be interested in attending this course if you have taken:
Yoga for Pelvic Pain
Sacroiliac Joint Current Concepts
Mobilization of the Myofascial Layer: Pelvis and Lower Extremity
Weightlifting and Functional Fitness Athletes