This image portrays Women’s History Month: Famous Women in History Who Impacted Physical Therapy by East Tennessee Spine and Sport.

Women’s History Month: Famous Women in History Who Impacted Physical Therapy

March is Women’s History Month! There have been plenty of women that’s impacted the world we know as today. This has bled into the Physical therapy world and women have made an impact on the PT industry. Nearly 64% of the profession is dominated by women. The following women have the most prominent influence in PT:

Mary McMillan

Mary is considered to be the “Founding Mother” of the Physical Therapy profession.  She received education and training in England and returned to the United States, working with P.E. graduates who were responsible for rehabilitating our WWI survivors.  

In 1918, Mary became the first “reconstruction aide” in the United States which eventually led her to train other women in the profession.  She is remembered for her sparkling personality, warmth and sense of community which led to more women pursuing physical therapy as a career.

Margaret Morris

Well known British dancer who pursued an interest in breath and pelvic floor muscle training to control leakage back in the 1930s – a few years before Dr. Kegel published his findings.  Despite Dr Kegel, and the misnomer of “kegels” being attributed to him and his work – Margaret first outlined and published the foundational work from which a majority of Dr. Kegel’s “exercise regimens” were derived.  She is recognized as the founder for pelvic floor rehabilitation in modern medicine as we know it today.

Elizabeth Noble

A Physical Therapist credited with founding the Women’s Health Section of the APTA in 1977.  Elizabeth was recognized internationally as the expert of, and an advocate for, the physiology of pregnancy, birth and postpartum experiences.

Elisabeth Bing

German Physical therapist.  Known for establishing a course in prepared childbirth education at Mount Sinai Hospital in NYC. Additionally, in 1960 she co-founded the American Society of Psychoprophylaxis in Obstetrics. She has also published numerous books in psychoprophylaxis which have become the mainstays in prepared childbirth education.  She was a large advocate for the Physical Therapist’s role for birth preparation in the United States.  Which is something we’re still fighting for today, 60 years later.

There are so many more honorable mentions of women impacting the PT industry as we know it today, we could go on forever. Especially since female representation at the executive level is growing, there will be so many more female physical therapists that will influence the profession in the future.



Pelvic floor physical therapist teaching patient about the pelvic floor using a pelvic model.

The Nest

You’ve asked and we’ve answered!  Our pelvic floor program is growing and we now have a stand-alone specialty clinic for all of your pelvic floor needs!  The Nest opened on February 1, 2023, and we are so excited to offer this specialty service for the greater Knoxville area.  

At the Nest, all of our physical therapists have significant training allowing us to treat pelvic health conditions like urinary incontinence, bowel incontinence, diastasis recti rehabilitation, pelvic pain, pain with intercourse, and so much more!

Pelvic floor physical therapy is for all ages and all genders because we all have pelvic floor muscles!  The pelvic floor has 5 very specific jobs:

  1. Stabilize the pelvis as a whole
  2. Support the pelvic organs (bowel, bladder, and uterus)
  3. Help with sexual function
  4. Helps with bowel & bladder function
  5. Support lymphatic function

Problems in the pelvic floor muscles can show up in any of those 5 jobs mentioned above or it can show up as pain in the back, abdomen, legs, and genitals. If your pelvic floor is doing its job, then it is not something that we think about.  When the muscles are not doing their job, it can consume so much of your brain power and put a halt to your everyday activities.

But the pelvic floor muscles don’t live on an island by themselves! So our pelvic floor therapists are also well-trained to treat all of the joints around the pelvic floor ensuring our patients get the best care possible. 

Additionally, we understand that there can be a lot of other issues that go hand and hand with pelvic floor problems and services can be hard to access.  To make this easier for our patients, The Nest will also be home to additional services provided by Kristin Williams, lactation consultant, Maggie Klotz, psychiatrist, and The 4th Trimester Fitness Method. We are so excited to have all of these amazing providers in one place. 

Call our location to set up an appointment to meet your needs. Our staff is excited to help you get back to full function and back to your life!

This image portrays Let’s Stretch Together! by East Tennessee Spine and Sport.

Let’s Stretch Together!

National Stretching Day and most people would say they understand the benefits of stretching, but not everyone is committed to staying loose with a regular routine.  While regular long stretching sessions are beneficial, especially for athletes or active individuals, how can we maintain flexibility if we do not have the time to commit? Here are some tips to help you stay loose even if you are stuck at the office.

The most common stretches are focused on “flexibility” or lengthening the muscles which is important to prevent injury. These should be completed in a dynamic movement fashion to warm up before activity and should be completed as 30-60 seconds static holds after activity. 

However, muscles are not the only part of our body that get “tight”.  We also have to consider our joints or “mobility” as well.  We like to say that Motion is Lotion. These repeated movements assist with lubricating our joints with nutrient-rich fluid which in turn will help maintain range of motion and decrease pain and stiffness.  

Most of the population (around 80%) will complain of back or neck pain in their life.  Our spine is made up of lots of different joints, so it is susceptible to stiffness resulting in common complaints of neck and back pain.  When we stay still for too long, such as sitting at our desk, our joints are not lubricated and we can lose mobility over time. 

For those that are stuck behind a desk, try these easy office stretches to break up your day, improve your posture, improve your mobility, and reduce your chance of developing back or neck pain.  

Try to perform up to 10 reps at a time and do at least one stretch every 1-2 hours. 2-3 minutes of stretching periodically throughout your day can be more beneficial than 1 intensive hour-long session.

If you have any specific questions or concerns and would like a personalized evaluation, please contact one of our six locally-owned clinics. We will provide you with a personalized plan of action based on your goals. We want to get you back to doing the activities you enjoy as quickly as possible. 

 

extending backwards
Stand up and extend backward.
Rotate to the left and right on a chair.
Rotate to the left and right.
Tuck chin straight back.
Tuck chin straight back.
Stetch your arm straight back.
Stretch your arm straight back.

 

 

Extend upper back over your chair.
Extend your upper back over your chair.
Mothers participate in lunge workouts with their newborns.

Female Pelvic Health Through the Lifespan

Women experience continuous changes throughout their lifespan; from puberty to childbearing years, perimenopause, and into postmenopause…the female body is an ever-evolving landscape! Oftentimes the symptoms and their effects on women’s lives is underappreciated. After all, women comprise 49.6% of the world’s population, so nearly half of the world is going through it. Pelvic Floor Therapists have a unique perspective into the struggles of women throughout their lifespan and tend to be diligent in delineating between a condition or experience being “common” versus “normal”.

It is important to not confuse the two terms; just because something is common among a population of people, does not make it normal. It is common for women to have pain during their menstrual cycles and during pregnancy. It is common for women to struggle with returning to prior levels of function, including sexual function, following the birth of a child or with the journey of menopause. It is common for women to experience bladder leakage, and have difficulties with constipation. It is common for them to develop vaginal changes affecting personal relationships during and following menopause. But – is it normal?

Being intentional to support women throughout their lifespan and the journey their body makes along with them is important. Empowering women to pursue care proven to improve quality of life measures, throughout their lifespan, is imperative. Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy can be a tremendous tool allowing women to reclaim their bodies, and often their lives.

What Is Pelvic Rehabilitation?

Pelvic floor rehab, or Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy, is treatment provided by a licensed Physical Therapist who has completed additional and specialized training for pelvic floor conditions. It involves an assessment of the low back, pelvis and hips, along with an external and internal pelvic examination. This examination is different from the one performed by a medical provider because it is assessing the “musculoskeletal” system; bones, joints, ligaments, and muscles.

Treating Women Through The Lifespan…

Experiencing the evolution from childhood to adulthood can be challenging for many children and adolescents. The development of new body parts, changes in appearance, acne and the beginning of menstruation can make this a very confusing time for kids. It’s difficult for parents too when the language has typically been “it’s normal to have pain during your period”. But what if your child is missing school, unable to attend social events, can’t tolerate tampon use, or is having severe acne? Pelvic floor therapy can be beneficial in assisting teens and parents to navigate these challenges and provide additional medical support when necessary.
For adult women, the changes don’t stop there – there’s the journey of pregnancy and postpartum to consider as well. How do women handle the increasing demands of their bodies while making another human? Are they supposed to buy the lie that “pain is normal”? Or should they pursue additional care when their back, hips, and feet start to bother them with their advancing pregnancy? What about changes in bladder or bowel continence – when women start leaking are we really going to tell them that’s normal? Or when women aren’t able to resume previous activity, like running, strength training, or sexual relationships; do we accept that dysfunction as the new normal too? The short answer: Absolutely not.
Then there’s menopause, the final change. Menopause may bring new dysfunction; changes in vaginal and vulvar tissues, their robustness, pliability, and strength which can affect a woman’s ability to tolerate sexual relationships. There are changes that occur with new weight gain and the aches of an aging body. And then the misconception that these issues have been going on for “too long” and there’s “no helping them now”. The body is resilient! And it doesn’t matter if your urinary incontinence has been around since that first baby 30+ years ago, or if it just sprang up with the changes of menopause; pelvic floor rehab can still be beneficial.

Common conditions may include…

  • Urinary Incontinence (Leakage)
  • Urinary Frequency or Urgency
  • Pain with Urination
  • Bowel Incontinence (Smearing, or Gas)
  • Pain with Bowel Movements
  • Constipation
  • Pelvic Organ Prolapse
  • Pain with Vaginal Penetration (Dyspareunia)
  • Painful Periods (Dysmenorrhea)
  • Low Back/Pelvic Pain
  • Menstrual Management

How Are We Treating It?

Pelvic floor rehab utilizes many treatment approaches including:

  • Manual therapy: Soft tissue or muscle mobilization, joint mobilization, myofascial release
  • Therapeutic exercise: Strengthening and flexibility interventions
  • Neuromuscular re-education: Teaching your muscles how to turn on/off appropriately and improving your awareness, coordination and control
  • Therapeutic Activities: Helping you function within your specific life activities like lifting children or grandchildren, exercising and running, or being able to make it to the bathroom without leaking

What Does This Mean For You?

If you are struggling with any urinary (bladder), bowel, or reproductive/sexual health concerns, pelvic floor rehab may be appropriate and helpful for you. You do not have to live with your dysfunction, there is help – and Pelvic Floor Therapists are happy to join you in the journey.

This image portrays What to Expect During Your Initial Visit by East Tennessee Spine and Sport.

What to Expect During Your Initial Visit

Whether you have been to physical therapy before or not, we want you to know what you can expect when you visit one of our East Tennessee Spine and Sport Physical Therapy clinics around Knoxville!

 

Lots of questions can swirl in our minds about how long it will take, what the visit will consist of, and other thoughts/worries can come up as well. We are here to help provide clarity regarding your first visit to decrease the uncertainty.  

 

Here’s what you can expect at your initial visit with us:

  • To fill out paperwork for our front office, however you can also find these forms on our website and bring with you on your first visit to save time

 

  • Once you finish the paperwork you physical therapist will walk you back to the evaluation room, where they will sit down with you and discuss the nature of what has brought you into the clinic. Whether you are here as a result of new or ongoing pain, a workplace injury, post-surgical rehabilitation, sports injury, etc. we will thoroughly review your history to determine how to best help you. Don’t worry, this is not the only time you’ll have to explain what is going on, but it is the time for you to explain things as best as you can!

 

  • The physical therapist will then begin a thorough movement assessment – we want to see how you move. We want to see how your pain/body responds to certain movements. Your physical therapist will also use their hands as a tool to aid in their examination and assessment. There are many specialized tests and methods used to help us evaluate that include hands-on examination and treatment.

 

  • Once your physical therapist has completed the assessment and examination portion of your initial visit, they will explain what they’ve found and how they want to help you progress – through various treatments – and they will help develop goals for you and your specific needs. Followed by corrective manual therapy and corrective exercises to address the specific needs and limitations the physical therapist found during the evaluation.  

 

  • Your physical therapist will finish your evaluation by creating your plan of care including working with you the number of visits, doses to perform your home corrective exercises, and length of time they think it will take from start to finish.  

 

Most importantly, know that your physical therapist wants to walk with you from your first visit with us, to your final visit! You can expect that we will listen, partner with you, and work towards enabling you and your body to return to an optimal level of functioning!

 

If you have any questions give us a call at any one of our clinics. We look forward to hearing from you and journeying with you!