How Physical Therapy Improves Your Digestive Health

digestive health

How is your digestive health? 

What type of health care provider comes to mind when you think of digestive and other gastrointestinal orders? While of course it is still important to work with your primary care doctor and nutritionist, physical therapists are also capable of helping you with various types of digestive issues. 

We hear it all the time, “I’m so bloated all the time!” or “My IBS symptoms are flaring!” 

But, did you know that a pelvic floor therapist can assist you by applying and teaching various massage techniques to the muscles of your pelvic floor? This trains you to regain control of your pelvic floor muscles and return to a normal lifestyle. 

Digestive health is a topic that has recently started to gain some attention in regards to its overall contribution to how you feel and function throughout your day. Good digestive health is a must for a healthy life. 

Common Digestive Symptoms Treated by Physical Therapy

Acid Reflux

Also known as “Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease” if you want to be fancy. This rare condition occurs whenever a portion of your stomach is pushed up into your diaphragm. Causing a small leak in your esophagus allowing stomach acid to move freely into the throat. A physical therapist can help you by applying massage techniques and other forms of manual manipulation to help reposition your stomach. 


We have all been there… that heavy feeling or the sense of being full tht we get toward the end of the day? Bloating can be caused by a few different things like overeating or being constipated. Ultimately what is happening when you feel symptoms of bloating is a misfire in your stomach. Instead of your diaphragm moving upward to allow for more room, it presses down causing pressure build up. Physical therapists use a variety of biofeedback and breathing techniques to help treat any symptoms that you may be feeling. 

Small Intestinal Bacterial Growth (SIBO)

This condition is a that commonly occurs after surgery or whenever the small intestine’s valves malfunction. With this valve malfunction, we see bacteria build up, making some cases rather serious! With manual therapy and other pelvic floor therapy techniques, we can help things flow properly again. There are also manual therapy techniques to break up any scar tissue that may be pressing on your intestines. 

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) 

Having a wide range of symptoms, IBS presents itself in different ways from person to person. However, one of the most common symptoms is constipation. Physical therapists can help relax the muscles in your pelvic floor by applying a variety of different massage techniques. There’s also breathing techniques that are taught to help with more comfortable bowel movements. Last, biofeedback is used to help you relax whenever you are going to the bathroom. 

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), sometimes called heartburn or acid reflux, develops when the stomach contents improperly flow upward into the esophagus (the long muscular tube connecting the mouth to the stomach).

Chronic Constipation

A person with chronic constipation has a hard time getting rid of feces from their body. Their bowel movements might be infrequent and painful.

Food Intolerances

A food intolerance refers to the inability of a person’s digestive system to tolerate a certain food. Food intolerances are different from food allergies, in that they only affect digestion (whereas food allergies can lead to breathing problems, hives, and other symptoms affecting different bodily systems).

Celiac disease is a well-known food intolerance and autoimmune disorder in which a person experiences digestive issues after consuming gluten (a protein found in wheat and other grains).

What to Look For When Seeking a Physical Therapist

Wherever you end up deciding to go, my recommendation is that you find a physical therapist with prior history with patients who have symptoms similar to yours. Not all physical therapists are trained to handle every symptom out there, especially when it comes to the pelvic floor. Here at PhysioFit we have several therapists who specialize in pelvic floor physical therapy. All of them have treated symptoms related to digestive health. 

Take advantage of our free phone consultation to see if we are the right fit for you! Just call or text us at (650) 947-8500.


kim gladfelter physiofit 1ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kim Gladfelter, MPT, OCS, FAAOMPT
Women's Health Physical Therapy Specialist at PhysioFit Physical Therapy & Wellness

Kim Gladfelter is a physical therapist, Pilates instructor, educator, author, and co-founder of PhysioFit Physical Therapy & Wellness. She is known as a keen, well-rounded expert of healing through movement and women’s health specialist in the Silicon Valley area.

Kim has helped men and women of all ages to stay active and feel their best. She also writes about managing pain in her health columns, blogs and the local Los Altos Town Crier newspaper as well as reaches out to the local community, support groups, schools, libraries, and sports centers to advise and educate on body awareness and therapeutic exercise.

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