The Pelvic Floor: Finding Empowerment in Vulnerability
By Shannon Stoby
There is a sense of vulnerability that comes with injury and illness. The sense of invincibility is gone and, as we put our recovery in the hands of health care professionals, it may feel like we’ve lost control of our lives.
This can be the case in any health-related scenario, but there are few issues that embody that feeling of lacking control more than a pelvic floor issue, and few forms of therapy that have more vulnerability implications than having it treated.
Typically, every message we’ve ever gotten about this area of our bodies is that we are supposed to keep it under wraps. Right down to calling them our ‘private parts’ we are taught to not talk about what goes on down there. So when issues arise, we don’t know what’s going on or where to turn for help. For the most part, conventional medicine has taught us that whatever pain or dysfunction you have going on, it is simply a part of the aging process and there is nothing much to be done.
As a physiotherapist trained to assess and treat the pelvic floor, it has been a struggle to change that mindset and to find an avenue through which people feel that they can talk about a topic which is generally regarded as ‘uncomfortable’. I have been told that as someone that has this training, it is easier for me to talk about it—but that was not always the case.
I came to this work first as a patient and came to quickly realize it’s importance to treat not only issues which are obviously related, but also with regards to treating the whole person. I know what it is to have to face that fear and unknown and entrust my body and my story to another in a very private matter; as the therapist, I do not take that lightly. But, I have come to appreciate that part of addressing the pelvic floor is looking at the ideas we have about our bodies and the ways we have been programmed about what is ‘normal’ or ‘appropriate’. It may sound cliché, but being able to admit the problem and having the courage to seek treatment is actually the first step to healing.
Obviously, that is not where it ends! Being willing to then follow through with the assessment and treatment is key. However, there is empowerment in the knowledge that there is help, and also in taking that vulnerable step toward greater control over your health and well-being. Find a qualified pelvic floor physiotherapist to help guide the way.
By: Shannon Stoby, PT, MScPT
Shannon is a Physical Therapist with an interest in helping her patients achieve holistic healing from whatever ails them and achieve optimum functioning in pursuing their passions.
Shannon graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Physical Education with distinction, and followed with a Master of Science in Physical Therapy. She is licensed with the College of Physical Therapists of Ontario and is a member of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association.
Shannon has trained extensively in John F. Barnes Myofascial Release (MFR), and this is the focus of her practice. She has worked with patients with mental illness, has trained in women’s health treatment, and is a sports enthusiast; MFR allows her a means to assist with all of these issues in a meaningful way. She has also worked across the lifespan, with experience addressing the health concerns of older adults. Through her experience in work and in life, she has come to understand that there is more to healing than just the body. While physical health is paramount, the roles of the mind and the soul in health and healing are of equal importance.
Shannon is excited for the opportunity to work with the talented team at IHI, and looks forward to working with you, in wherever the journey may lead.
I honestly didn’t know that there was physiotherapy for pelvic muscles. I appreciate how you strive to help people be more comfortable with discussing their health concerns and seeking help. Often, the biggest obstacle in having and maintaining good health is the fear of doctors or even the fear of admitting that we have a health issue. For some reason, maybe it is a kind of conditioning that you mentioned, we think we can just wait out our problems, treat the symptoms, and hope that the issue gets resolved by itself. We don’t even realize how many resources are available to help us.