2 LOCATIONS:   BETHESDA, MD. 4905 Del Ray Ave, Suite 508   |   MCLEAN, VA. 1305 Vincent Place

What Does Manual Therapy For the Pelvic Floor Look Like?


Have you been thinking about seeing a pelvic floor physical therapist for help with things such as pelvic pain or pregnancy and postpartum care? If so, you might be wondering what to expect from your treatment.

Of all the services we offer, manual therapy is probably the one we get the most questions about! 

What is manual therapy for pelvic floor dysfunction like? 

How should someone prepare for a pelvic floor therapy appointment? 

Does pelvic floor manual therapy hurt? 

These are great questions…

About Pelvic Floor Manual Therapy

Pelvic floor manual therapy involves hands-on techniques provided by a licensed, board-certified physical therapist who specializes in pelvic health. These techniques are used to improve connective tissue function (e.g., muscles, fascia, joints) within and around the pelvic area to reduce pain, tension, and other symptoms. We deliver manual therapy using our hands and/or hand-held instruments.

Manual therapy techniques for pelvic floor disorders are often applied on the lower back, hips, thighs, groin, and external pelvis area. When clinically indicated, manual therapy may also include internal techniques, too. For instance, a pelvic floor PT may insert one or two gloved fingers or a small instrument (e.g., biofeedback device) into the rectum or vagina, either to examine or treat pelvic floor tissues and structures.

To ensure patient privacy and comfort, we deliver all our manual therapy techniques in a calming, one-on-one environment! We thoughtfully incorporate our techniques into each patient’s plan of care to ensure they are receiving optimized, individualized treatment. We also take the time to thoroughly explain how each technique works and answer any questions—not only does this help each patient feel more informed about their care, but it helps them relax and truly get the most out of their treatment.

Some Quick Q&A About Pelvic Floor Manual Therapy

  • Does pelvic floor manual therapy hurt? Most of our patients report that manual therapy alleviates their pain and discomfort. Understandably, some people feel a bit nervous about certain techniques, such as internal interventions. Please know that your pelvic physical therapist will never do anything that you do not want her to. You always have the right to stop or decline any treatment you’re not comfortable with, and we’re happy to answer any questions you have. We’re here to help you feel as well-informed and relaxed as possible.
  • How should I prepare for my appointment? Wear comfortable loose clothing. If you wish, you are welcome to bring your partner or a loved one to be there and support you during your treatment session. And yes, you can come even if you’re on your period—it’s up to your comfort level.

Benefits of Manual Therapy for Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

We use manual therapy in our pelvic floor therapy practice because it’s been shown to:

  • Alleviate pain, tension, and spasms in pelvic floor muscles
  • Facilitate improved mobility, tissue elasticity, and tissue healing
  • Improve an individual’s ability to understand and learn how to control (e.g., contract, relax) their pelvic floor muscles
  • Restore optimal pelvic floor muscle function and thereby reduce common symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction
  • Enhance and complement the beneficial effects of other pelvic floor therapy treatments

Types of Manual Therapy We Offer

Many people think that pelvic floor manual therapy is “just” massage. But while massage techniques are included in our manual therapy toolbox, there are many other hands-on techniques and osteopathic interventions we use to help our patients achieve lasting and meaningful results!

For example, our Bethesda and McLean pelvic floor physical therapists are highly trained in a variety of manual therapy techniques for both men and women, including:

  • Craniosacral Therapy
  • Visceral Manipulation
  • Mechanical Link and Muscle Energy Techniques
  • Strain Counterstrain
  • Myofascial Release
  • Manual Lymphatic Drainage

If manual therapy is indicated to be a part of your treatment, know that your pelvic PT will personalize the treatment for your body in order to offer you effective relief for your pelvic floor dysfunction and other pelvic floor related issues. At ITR Physical Therapy, we provide personalized pelvic floor physical therapy in Bethesda, MD, McLean, VA, and the greater Washington D.C. community. Call 301-770-7060 now to schedule an appointment or to learn more about the diverse range of services we offer!