Balance Exercises for Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

purple background with image centered, image of Dr, Maureen O'Keefe balancing on vibration plate. This design is for The Blog post Balance Exercises for Pelvic Floor Dysfunction Blog
Author| Dr. Maureen O’Keefe, DPT pelvic health and TMJ disorder physical therapist who uses balance training as part of rehabilitation programs

If I have pelvic floor dysfunction should I be doing balance exercises?

Yes, our clinical experience and post-doctoral training supports that you should be training your balance at all ages, especially if you have any pelvic floor dysfunction, urinary incontinence, back pain, neck pain, TM joint pain or joint arthritis. We are Purple Mountain Physical Therapy and we treat people who have pelvic health problems (such as chronic pelvic pain, bladder and bowel control issues, prolapse, pregnancy & postpartum recovery), back, neck and TMJ disorders. Our licensed physical therapists include balance exercises in the rehabilitation programs we design for our patients. If you are concerned about your balance and would like a complete balance assessment and treatment program that is safe, challenging and effective, call our office today at (616) 516-4334 or contact us here to submit your questions.

The pelvic floor muscles have important function when it comes to your balance. They should:

  • Automatically respond to your movement patterns

  • Help your posture, because they are postural muscles

  • React to when you trip, slip or fall.

Our patients who have pelvic floor dysfunction have problems with these things. It is like the pelvic floor muscles are asleep at the wheel. When this is the case, they don’t have the pelvic floor muscles effectively responding when they bend, reach or lift things. As a result, they experience pelvic organ prolapse, urinary incontinence, pelvic pain or other problems. When the pelvic floor muscles don’t respond to your movement or react to you falling, you might experience stress urinary incontinence. It is common that patients come to us and say “I missed a stair on my staircase and when I landed down I also wet my pants.” Our pelvic floor rehab programs address your balance, the timing of firing of your pelvic floor muscles, your posture and more so that your urinary control, pelvic organ prolapse and pain can improve. If interested in inquiring about cost and availability of our pelvic physical therapy, call us today at 616-516-4334 to speak with one of our staff members or contact us here.

Sometimes our patients are surprised to see that we assess their balance and provide balance exercises for pelvic floor dysfunction.

What is actually more surprising to us, if we’re honest, is how impaired the balance is of many of our patients, young and older. Honestly, when we ask our patients to stand on one leg, many of them wobble, even “young” patients. If we ask them to close their eyes and do this, they lose their balance (with us safely nearby to prevent a fall.). We find that by improving our patients pelvic floor muscle function, core muscles, head/neck and jaw position, thorax (ribcage) and pelvic alignment, there is often quick and meaningful improvement in balance. It is very rewarding for us physical therapists to witness and our patients routinely express gratitude that they can see and feel an improvement in their balance during the appointment. If you are interested in having us assess and treat your poor balance, pelvic floor, low back, neck or TM joint, our physical therapists are here to help you. Every appointment is private and one-on-one with your physical therapist. We never leave your side! Call our office at 616-516-4334 or contact us here to learn more.

Balance exercises help urinary incontinence, pelvic floor dysfunction, back pain and more!

When our patients complete their customized pelvic floor or TMJ treatment program, they tell us that their balance and TMJ pain, pelvic problems, including incontinence, pain and hip or back problems, are much better. In fact, patients report higher confidence with carrying their children on staircases. They also report better ability to move freely, not as cautiously. They tell us that they trip less often and don’t avoid uneven terrain anymore. If you are noticing that your balance isn’t very good, we would love to help you improve your balance, get more confident on your feet, reduce your risk for falls and enable you to be more active again. If this is of interest, call us at 616-516-4334 or contact us here to ask questions about our balance physical therapy program.

Balance (or lack of balance) has been in the news lately because poor balance is linked with higher mortality risks.

You may have heard the recent article released that found that people who cannot balance on one leg for ten seconds are at higher risk for death. We work with balance for patients of every age and are able to help you improve your balance, pelvic floor muscle dysfunction (so the muscles respond properly when you lose your balance), posture and confidence. Let’s take a closer look at this recent study so we can be motivated to work on our own balance. If you have questions about our pelvic floor physical therapy or balance-focused program, call us at 616-516-4334 or contact us here to ask questions about our balance physical therapy program.

Did you know that balance quickly worsens once you are aged mid-50s onward? You must start to work on balance in every decade! This is one reason why we include balance work in our physical therapy programs.

In this study that lasted 12 years, more than 1700 people were asked to stand on one leg for 10 seconds. The participants were between the ages of 51-75 years. It was noted whether they were able to stand on one leg for ten seconds or not. Then a statistic model was used to compare survival and risk of death with their ability to balance on one leg for ten seconds. In the study 20.4% of the participants could not balance on one leg for ten seconds. Following up with these same people seven years later found that 17.5% of them had died in those 7 years, whereas only 4.6% of the people who could balance on one leg for ten seconds had died.

The researchers concluded by saying:

“the ability to successfully complete the 10-s OLS is independently associated with all-cause mortality and adds relevant prognostic information beyond age, sex and several other anthropometric and clinical variables. There is potential benefit to including the 10-s OLS as part of routine physical examination in middle-aged and older adults.”

Araujo CGde Souza e Silva CGLaukkanen JA, et al
Successful 10-second one-legged stance performance predicts survival in middle-aged and older individuals.

Why does Purple Mountain Physical Therapy offer so much balance exercises?

Graduate courses in balance were a special focus in my PT curriculum.

When I attended physical therapy school, in the 1990s, my university (Temple University) had a special focus on preventing falls in the elderly. Myself and my classmates completed 3 semesters of coursework specifically focused on balance, falls and fall prevention. This coursework was not required at other physical therapy universities, it was an additional requirement at Temple because one professor had balance and falls as a special interest. We also took other classes specific to balance and neurologic recovery, fall prevention, stroke rehabilitation, balance after lower extremity injuries and surgeries. As a result, I have been balance-focused and enjoy creating physical therapy programs that include dynamic movement in pelvic health rehab. All of my staff, also, are trained in the methods I use and, additionally, have advanced coursework for pelvic floor rehabilitation as well as TM joint pain treatment, neck and back rehab. It turns out that all of these problems benefit from balance exercises to get your deep muscles and joint proprioceptors working faster and more responsive when you move. If you wonder if we may be able to help you, call us to speak with a team member at 616-516-4334 or contact us here.

Working in general orthopedics I found all ages and diagnoses benefitted from addressing their balance, including pelvic floor dysfunction, chronic low back pain, neck and TM joint pain and sports performance recovery.

When I embarked on my PT career, very early on I noticed that I included many more balance based exercises for my orthopedic patients than my colleagues. In those years I was working in general orthopedics, treating every diagnosis from head to toe and I would work on balance training with most patients. I loved helping a young, high school athletes improve their balance and reaction times. Working with middle aged men and women I found that their balance, posture, spine and neck always benefited from treatment. And, then there were the elderly. I have always enjoyed geriatric care and truly love working to improve people’s balance. The elderly are so grateful to be in a safe environment, where they cannot fall, and are truly working on their ability to remain independently living at home.

In the late 1990s I began my focus on pelvic health, neck, spine and TM joint treatment. I continued to provide balance exercises to these patients and found it helped improve confidence, posture and reduce pelvic floor dysfunction and jaw tension

When I opened Purple Mountain PT here in Grand Rapids, I knew that I wanted our clinic to provide private, comfortable treatment rooms where you can receive the manual therapy treatments (massage, myofascial mobilization, trigger point release, visceral mobilization, spine and back balancing, etc.) we are known for. I also wanted a gym space where you, our patients, could learn how to move more effectively, could improve your balance, could rehabilitate your spine, core, balance, posture, fascia and anything else you needed. We offer all of this at Purple Mountain PT.

Why we use whole body vibration as one method of improving your balance

In short, our whole body vibration machines are amazing tools to help your TMJ disorder, neck, back or pelvic problem rehabilitate. Patients love these machines and feel better after being on them. Our PTs love the machines because we see that they get you results. We literally get the privilege of watching your balance improve over the course of a treatment session. Patients remark, after being on the machine, that their balance is better and, often, they have less pain after the whole body vibration exercises.

We have two whole body vibration machines in our clinic and you will find our patients using this everyday, while closely supervised by your physical therapist.

A whole body vibration machine simply jiggles and vibrates, very gently, while you stand or do other exercises on it (such as have your hands on it to do a push up). This vibration is gentle and challenges your balance system, including your joint proprioceptors, your deep core muscles (think neck, abdominals and pelvic floor), your postural muscles and your vestibular system. Research has found that whole body vibration increases the amount of muscles firing when you are on this machine, compared to being on flat ground; therefore, you get more out of doing your exercises on the whole body vibration platform. Our PTs are by your side the entire time, ensuring safety and cuing you to correct your posture, use different movement pattern or engage certain muscles.

Balance exercises for pelvic floor dysfunction are an important part of our physical therapy for pregnant and postpartum recovery

When pregnant, your center of gravity completely changes, rendering you at greater risk for falling. If you also have pelvic pain, abdominal wall separation, back or hip weakness, you need to be careful to avoid falling. Our physical therapists have a complete program to treat pregnant women all through their pregnancy to help with any pelvic pain, urinary incontinence, exercises and balance. We also include birth preparation and strategies to protect your pelvic floor during birth. When postpartum, our diastasis recti recovery program, postpartum rehabilitation, pelvic floor dysfunction and core recovery program also includes balance and postural correction exercises. We find that postpartum moms tend to have poorly firing glutes, weakness in their abdominals, misalignment in their head/neck and back and pelvic floor dysfunction. Our licensed physical therapists have post-graduate training and experience working with pregnant and postpartum women and this includes balance exercises. Most women tell us after an appointment that they feel so much better and more confident with the ability to move. If you are interested in learning more about our pregnancy and postpartum physical therapy, we can help you. Call us at 616-516-4334 or contact us here.

My grandmother had a huge fear of falling. It stopped her from leaving her house on many a winter day. It is my hope to age gracefully, with good balance. That is my hope for our patients, also. We are here to help you improve your balance.

Fear of falling is truly debilitating. When you fear falling, any object, small step or instability appears to be something that could kill you. Breaking a hip, for elderly women and men, is serious and linked to higher risk of death. Therefore, the fear of falling, is well founded. However, it is never too late to start working on your balance. We encourage our patients, at every stage of their life, to include balance exercises in their routine. If you are older and finding your balance is poor, please reach out to a physical therapist who can help design a safe and effective program to improve your balance. If you are interested in learning more about exercises to improve balance, reduce your fear of falling and to help back, hip and core strength, call us today at 616-516-4334 or contact us here.

Why balance exercises are important following any pelvic surgery, including C-section, endometriosis excision, post-prostatectomy, sling surgery, hip labral repair and back surgery

Following a major surgery that disrupted any tissues or structures located from your ribcage down to your pelvis, hips and pelvic floor, your balance system will be deficient. We find that our patients do not have effective timing and coordination of their pelvic floor muscles, for example, when they lose their balance. They tell us that they lost their balance and when that happened they experienced pain or urinary incontinence. Following prostatectomy, the pelvic floor muscles that control your urine will be impaired and your entire pelvis will benefit from physical therapy, including exercises for balance to help pelvic floor dysfunction. If you are planning any of these types of surgeries, we offer pre-hab, which is appointments before your surgery, to help prepare you for what is to come. Part of pre-hab includes balance exercises and also teaching you how to correctly contract your pelvic floor muscles, while you breathe and engage the rest of your core muscles. Once you are post-operative, we can begin the process of rehabilitating all of your systems, including your bladder and bowel control, intimacy, balance system, posture and anything else that is impaired. Our PTs provide whole body care that is supervised at all time and one-on-one with your doctor of physical therapy. We work with people who experience substantial pelvic pain or TM joint issues and offer care that is comprehensive, holistic and truly therapeutic. If you are interested in learning more about our methods, call us today to speak with one of our staff. We can be reached at 616-516-4334 or contact us here.

If you are interested in balance exercises to treat your pelvic floor dysfunction, our physical therapists are here to help you

We love this work and are devoted to providing you our best methods to give you results. It is our goal that you age well, feel good and can lead as active a life as you desire. If you experience any pelvic issues, including urinary incontinence, pelvic pain, prolapse or constipation, our PTs can help craft a comprehensive rehab program to get you feeling better. If we find that your balance is not as good as it should be or your pelvic floor firing is slow or deficient, we will include balance exercises as part of your rehab program. We do work with individuals in-person at our clinic in Grand Rapids and also offer phone consults or telehealth visits. We like to keep your safety in mind at all times, so if your balance is significantly impaired a telehealth visit is not going to be in your best interest, but we can advise you on what you can be doing. If you have questions about our balance program, call us today at 616-516-4334 or contact us here.


Dr. Maureen O’Keefe, DPT specializing in helping people improve their balance, pelvic, spine and TM joint problems since the late 1990s. Our team here at Purple Mountain PT is here to provide you personalized and comprehensive care to help you improve your balance.


You may be interested in reading more about our PT offerings, with these articles:


What Can Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy Help With?

Do I Have Pelvic Floor Dysfunction?

TMJ Disorder Treatment in Grand Rapids

Pelvic Floor Exercises for Women

Exercise in Pregnancy: A Physical Therapists Perspective



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