There are a lot of practical issues to consider during your pregnancy, like names, choosing between cloth or disposable diapers, and most importantly, whether cesarean birth is right for you. It’s estimated that in the United States, one in three babies born is via C-section. This number has steadily increased by about 50% over the past decade.

However, the effects of having a cesarean are significant and need to be weighed carefully against natural birth. To ease the effects it has on a woman’s body, a physical therapist trained in surgery recovery is the quickest way to getting back on track.

The surgery itself lasts about 45 minutes, during which a small horizontal incision is made above the pubic bone. The doctor proceeds to cut through the skin, connective tissue, and muscles, to open up the uterus. The baby is pulled out through the surgically cut opening and the opening is then stitched back up and the woman is sent to recover.

This is an especially difficult time for your body, not only have your abdominal muscles been stretched out for the past nine months, but now they have to be retrained and strengthened after a major surgery. In post-operation there is a risk of your brain losing the connection between your abdominal muscles and pelvic floor.

When this happens you will be unable to control the deep abdominal/pelvic floor musculature, which assists with stabilizing the spine and pelvis. Post-surgery, these muscles often recover very slowly or, even once fully recovered, they can have difficulty working as efficiently as they did before. Without solid control of these muscle groups, controlling your pelvis can become difficult and painful during simple activities like walking. Additionally, bad habits can form leading to back, pelvic and abdominal pain, which will limit your return to normal daily activities.

How can physical therapy help? Physical therapists are professionals trained in surgery recovery who can assist patients with retraining muscles to work effectively. A physical therapist can assist by teaching cueing techniques and progressive strengthening exercises with activation of the deep abdominal and pelvic floor muscles to improve overall stability.

It’s important to be careful when exercising postpartum as the disconnect between your brain and the stabilizing muscles can increase chance of injury. With the help of the physical therapist you can retrain the muscles in a safe environment under expert advice. Contact a physical therapist at any Foothills location to increase muscle strength, decrease pain, and improve function after having a baby.

March is National Athletic Training Month. Athletic trainers are often thought of only helping schools and sports team with on-field injuries. Read our Q&A featuring Leah Harris, PT, MPT, ATC, as she shares her athletic training background, where the industry is headed and advice for those interested in pursuing a career as an athletic trainer.


Q: How long have you been an athletic trainer and what’s your background in athletic training?

Leah Harris:  I was licensed as an Athletic Trainer in 2003. I was a student Athletic Trainer for GCC and GCU working all sports.


Q: Why did you become an athletic trainer?

Leah Harris:  I enjoyed playing sports in high school and wanted to continue with a profession that would keep me involved in the sporting world. I lucked out and got a spot as a student athletic trainer at GCC and was able to work under an excellent Athletic Trainer.


Q: What role does an athletic trainer play for sports teams?

Leah Harris:  The Athletic Trainer is one of the most important aspects of sports. They are the first responder at practices and games and are able to assist with medical emergencies and ongoing treatment of all athletes.


Q: Where do you see the profession of athletic training going in the next 5 years?

Leah Harris: Within the next 7 years it will be required for all new Athletic Training students to obtain their Master’s degree. They are trying to be taken seriously in healthcare, where people believe they are not important, needed, or educated enough. Athletic trainers are changing the way people perceive them and putting away the mindset that they are nothing but “personal trainers.” You are also seeing more athletic trainers move away from the field and moving more clinically to work with a broader range of patients. Hopefully with a transition to Master’s program Athletic Trainers will be perceived as equals in the healthcare industry.


Q: What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue athletic training as a career?

Leah Harris:  Be ready to work a lot of hours! Athletic training is a tough and time extensive progression. It is a lot of schooling and requires you to be on top of your game all the time. It is a rewarding job, but be ready to work.