Pelvic floor health is getting a lot more attention lately; attention she deserves! Dr. Stacey Hendricks, founder of Elevate Physical Therapy, is the only board certified women’s clinical specialist within a 90-mile radius of Cincinnati. Nine zero. Stacey and her team, experts in pregnancy, postpartum, and female pelvic floor physical therapy, are moving into a beautiful new space in Blue Ash this month. Read on to learn more about Elevate PT and why a healthy pelvic floor is crucial for women before and after babies!
Every woman (everyone, actually) has a pelvic floor. It’s the group of muscles that sits in a bowl shape at the bottom of the pelvis. The pelvic floor is responsible for your entire core mechanism: supporting your organs, opening and closing things, sexual function, and oh yeah, breathing.
60-80% of women will have pelvic floor dysfunction at some point in their life.
Yep, you read that right. Even scarier? Fewer than 50% ever tell their doctor. Pelvic pain, painful sex, leaking pee, poop, or gas, pressure and heaviness down below are all signs pointing to dysfunction. Sadly, we’ve normalized many of these symptoms; adding them to the laundry list of things that come with age and motherhood.
It was those statistics that called Dr. Stacey Hendricks to women’s health in the first place. Specializing in the pelvic floor became her passion. “It’s our deepest layer of muscles that stabilize our body for movement. It can and does affect every single part of our body.”
So how does pelvic floor dysfunction happen?
Most commonly with babies. Think about it: during pregnancy, our muscles stretch A LOT to accommodate a rapidly growing baby and belly. With that comes pressure, weakness, and stress on our spine, hips, and pelvis. We tilt backwards to keep up with a new center of gravity. Baby’s head bears down. For months! Then, during birth, our bones and muscles move (and usually tear) in unfathomable ways. Bringing life into the world is a beautiful event, but to be clear, it’s a warzone down there.
The body has a lot of healing to do to repair and regain central stability. “Think about it like this,” says Stacey.
“If you tore your rotator cuff playing a sport, you’d automatically be sent to rehab for 8+ weeks. But when we tear the muscles and ligaments around our pelvis and vagina, everyone’s like don’t worry about it, it’ll heal on its own.”
That is a) simply not true and b) doesn’t address the emotional weight that accompanies physical healing. Stacey knows this firsthand after her daughter’s very traumatic birth. “Even though I had all the tools and knew all the right things to do; it was so hard to recover. Especially emotionally. I knew I needed to create a safe place for women who didn’t even have the tools in the first place.”
Elevate Physical Therapy opened in May of 2017 and has been growing ever since. Stacey’s team, which includes Dr. Katie Coleman and Dr. Ricci Hoover, covers prenatal, postnatal, pelvic and core health, and even lymphedema and cancer care. Women can self-refer to be assessed at any time. “You could have done everything right, and still really need some help,” Stacey says.
Plus, pelvic floor PT is not just for women who have had vaginal birth(s).
Getting informed and checked before or while you’re pregnant can maximize muscle function and prevent injury.
There is much to assess after a cesarean section as well: abdominal separation, scar tissue, how your muscles are working as you recover from major surgery, and more. You can also certainly have pelvic pain without having children (thanks in some part to our sedentary Netflix & work-from-home culture).
Stacy is the real deal; and Elevate is her mission: to break the shame barrier surrounding pelvic health, empower women to be informed about their bodies, and complete treatment to restore and re-educate these key muscles. Cincinnati is pretty lucky to have this powerhouse team providing care in an affordable and accessible way!
Part Two of this pelvic PT series is up next: an intimate look into my Elevate therapy sessions. In the meantime, if you think you may benefit from therapy with Stacey and have any questions, reach out to her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to check out the website and follow @elevatepelvicpt on Instagram for amazing, free pelvic health content!
With a background in education and event planning, Maggie Hauser obtained her health coaching certification in 2018 while living abroad in Germany. She has worked one-on-one with (virtual) clients as well as piloted a meal preparation service for families. In addition to nutrition and hormone health, Maggie is passionate about reading, fitness and travel. Her greatest adventure yet is that of becoming a first-time mom!