Pelvic Health 101: Does my diet really matter?

By Fiona McMahon, DPT

Calories in should equal calories out, right? It turns out there’s a little more to health than that. Learn more about how diet can affect your pelvic floor. Get practical tips for integrating diet into the management of pelvic floor dysfunctions such as constipation, interstitial cystitis ( painful bladder syndrome), and many others.

veggiesOur next course, where you’ll learn all about nutrition and pelvic health from nutritionist Jessica Drummond, is Tuesday, November 3, at 7pm in our office!  First-time attendees will receive FREE copies of Amy’s DVD, Healing Pelvic and Abdominal Pain, and we provide snacks. We will also be tweeting the highlights of the seminars at @beyondbasicspt!

Pelvic Health courses are free to the public, but space is limited. Please sign up at  for an evening of informative information that will help you better manage your pelvic floor symptoms!

Hope to see you soon!

Photo Source:

Postcard From: Herman and Wallace, A Course in Pediatric Pelvic Floor, Boston

By Fiona McMahon, PT  DPT

This past Friday, I hopped on a double decker bus and made my way up to Boston (Norwood) for a continuing education in pediatric pelvic floor disorders. Physical therapists are required to accumulate a certain amount of course hours a year to maintain their license to practice, but more importantly to continue to grow as a clinician. Pediatric pelvic floor physical therapy, like adult pelvic floor physical therapy is complex and rapidly evolving. Although, I had been trained in pediatric pelvic floor PT at Beyond Basics Physical Therapy, I knew I was in for a weekend of furthering my knowledge and expertise.

First of all, the ride up was beautiful. This time of year New England’s countryside is on fire with the red, yellows, and oranges of fall foliage. I spent until sundown looking out the window to soak up the scenery.

The course itself was fabulous. I think the most powerful part of the course was hearing specific children’s stories of their struggles with bedwetting, constipation, fecal soiling, and incomplete urination. Physical therapy changed their lives. I am not saying this lightly. By helping a child rid his or herself of these extremely embarrassing and isolating conditions, the child is able to return to the activities of play, learning, and adventure, that they were previously unable to experience secondary to embarrassment and fear of bullying.

It is just so important that there are clinicians out there who can treat these disorders and help kids return to their role as children. The need is there. If you are a pediatric healthcare provider and are not sure how to help these kids with bladder and bowel disorders, I implore you to refer to a pediatric pelvic floor physical therapist for an evaluation to see how they can help. You will be directly improving the lives of children. If you are a parent, I urge you to seek out help for you child’s bowel and bladder issues. There really is so much to be done to improve your child’s well-being from a medical and physical therapy aspect. We at Beyond Basics Physical Therapy treat a range of pediatric disorders. Please consider us if your child is suffering from pelvic floor dysfunction.

Featured imagePhoto:  Right: Me (Fiona McMahon), and Left: Dawn Sandalcidi PT, RCMT, BCB-PMD instructor of Herman and Wallace: Pediatric Incontinence and Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

Menstrual cups: are they a good fit?

670px-Chasha-tcvet2_834By Anonymous

As a licensed physical therapist, I am required to take continuing education classes, but as a licensed PT who specializes in pelvic floor, my courses are a little different. We all learn from practice and experiences in class, and many of my courses involve internal work on the pelvic floor muscles.

Of course I am well aware when I sign up for the courses what I’ve gotten myself into! However, I don’t always plan my courses around my menstrual cycle.

This particular course was a Friday-Sunday weekend course. Thursday before the course, I began menstruating. So, I knew I could still participate in the class; however, I had heavy bleeding and was not thrilled about internal work to say the least.

At the beginning of class, the instructor mentioned that anyone on her period was welcome to come up to get a menstrual cup. Although I’ve heard of menstrual cups and Beyond Basics has been given samples, I was hesitant and never inclined to try them out myself.  BUT it was menstrual cup vs. menstrual blood all over during the lab. I opted to try the cup!

Inserting was interesting. For those who have used tampons without the applicator, almost the same experience, but you have to squeeze the sides of the cup together. It took more than one try to figure out the best approach, also reading directions before hand is probably helpful (whoops).

Getting the cup out was the FUN part! I was sitting on the toilet in my hotel room at the end of the day and essentially fishing for the cup…COULD NOT GET IT OUT. So, I stood up, straddled the toilet and re-attempted. I could feel it, just couldn’t get a grip on it – so I added in some diaphragmatic breaths with a pelvic floor drop and Eureka! I got it out…and thank goodness I was over the toilet. What a mess…

Overall assessment!

Pro: I was able to keep the cup in for about 8 hours without any issues of leaking on a heavy flow day. I also did not feel it at all, so much more comfortable than tampons or wearing a pad!

Con: Insertion and removal. Insertion really was not that bad, but removal is tricky. I would say you have to be in a private bathroom at the very least and really relax your muscles.  I also think a menstrual cup may not be the best choice for someone with pelvic/vaginal pain, because it may irritate some of the muscles of your pelvic floor.

Would I use a menstrual cup again? I honestly don’t know.

There are several brands out there. The one I used was Soft Cup. It may be interesting to try out different brands. Just realized how many there are when I stumbled across this Menstrual Cup review website!

Take a look

And feel free to share your thoughts or experience in the comments section!


Pelvic Health 101: Q&A with an Expert Panel

Fiona McMahon, DPT

Our expert panel class is a new addition to our PH101 course catalog and we are so excited! Join us October 27th at 7pm for an open question and answer format class with some of the world’s first and foremost medical experts in pelvic health.

Our guests will include Doctor of Physical Therapy and Founder of Beyond Basics, Amy Stein, Physical Therapist, DPT, BCB-PMD; Dr. Allyson Shirkhande, Urologist, Dr. David Kaufman, and Gynecologist Dr. Dena Harris. Please join us for this rare and invaluable opportunity to speak with these phenomenal doctors. Sign up early, this event will fill up fast! Men and women are both welcome. Sign up at: For those of you who don’t live in the area, but have questions for our experts, please leave your questions in the comment section of our post. We will try and get to as many as possible during the seminar and post the answers in a future blog!

Hope to see you there!


Postcard From: PT Day of Service

By Fiona McMahon, DPT

The PT National Day of Service was on Saturday, October 17 this year. All around the Nation, physical therapists spent their Saturdays giving back to the community, from volunteering in soup kitchens, painting murals in city schools, and running charity races. We at Beyond Basics held our first pro bono clinic.

This Saturday the therabands were a’ snapping early as we offered quick health and wellness screens to public. We were busy all day and we all had a blast getting to know and treat new people.

On this day of Service, we physical therapists look back at what is a tremendous honor, to treat people when they can be at their most vulnerable. Being a physical therapist affords us a great luxury of being able to spend more time with our patients than many other healthcare professions. We get to know and care for our patients in such a special way. It is such a privilege to go to work everyday helping people reach their goals and improve their ability to enjoy their lives.

Thank you,

Beyond Basics Physical Therapy

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Pelvic Health 101: Pain & Sexuality: Is it all in My Head?

Fiona McMahon, DPT

Sex should feel good… really, really good. But when it doesn’t, you may start to wonder, what’s wrong with me? Am I broken? Am I a prude? Am I frigid? Painful sex isn’t something we talk about. No one would look at you twice if you walked into work complaining of pain in your elbow, but if you walk into work complaining about pain in you vagina or penis, you may end up having a meeting with HR.

On October 20th at 7pm, we at Beyond Basics are breaking down those taboos and having an educational seminar, followed by an optional question and answer at the end.  The event will be hosted by one of our therapists, Stephanie Stamas, DPT, ATC. Stephanie will give a detailed seminar about pelvic health and take time to clear up some common misconceptions many people have concerning their bodies and sexual function.


We sincerely hope that if you are experiencing pain with sex, that you will come visit us to learn more. Our Pelvic Health courses are free and open to the public. If you are interested please register at: We hope to see you soon!

October Physical Therapy Happenings!

By Victoria LaManna, DPT

October is a busy month for many. Whether you are getting back into the swing of school or work after summer vacation, preparing your Halloween costume or getting ready for all the upcoming holidays right around the corner – there is a lot going on!

This time of year is also an opportunity to do good and give back. October is National Physical Therapy Month, where physical therapists throughout the U.S. give back to their local communities. This year we are taking it up a notch. Physical therapists WORLDWIDE are getting involved for the first annual Global PT Day of Service THIS Saturday, October 17th. Whether it is by hosting a pro-bono clinic, serving in a soup kitchen, participating in a 5k for a cause, or cleaning up a community garden – physical therapists globally as a profession are coming together to make a positive impact on the world around them.

At Beyond Basics, we have decided to host a pro-bono clinic to give back to those in the New York City area who may not have insurance or access to physical therapy. We are providing 30 minute one-on-one evaluations and recommendations for home programs to up to 30 participants. For more information and to sign up please visit:

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You can also check out PT Day of Service here and follow on twitter (#PTDOS) to see how the day unfolds!

The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) is also involved in hosting National Physical Therapy Month. This year the APTA’s focus is on healthy aging through the #AgeWell Campaign. I encourage you to check out educational resources provided by the APTA ( and Move Forward PT ( Learn all about how physical therapy can help you overcome pain, improve mobility and maintain independence throughout your lifetime.

Successful Orthopedic Healing Through Functional Manual Therapy

by Amy Stein, DPT, BCB-PMD

This week we had our amazing Corey Silbert, DPT, CFMT and Ryanne Glasper, DPT both present and demonstrate how effective their training in Functional Manual Therapy is, and how quickly one sees results with any orthopedic injury/dysfunction. For example, how a mechanical dysfunction from an ankle sprain can effect the pelvis and neck. How IBS/bowel issues can effect TMJ and vice versa. With this training, results can be seen quickly, even if a patient has been going to PT.

The training and certification that Corey, Ryanne and all the PTs at Beyond Basics Physical Therapy has is through an institution called Institute of Physical Arts. It is a series of courses incorporating an integration of various manual therapy techniques, Alexander technique, Feldenkrais Movement, Pilates, PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation) and more. Corey, who is already certified in the training and Ryanne is very close to her certification wrote more about it below.

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Introduction to FMT                        Grand Rounds October 7, 2015
Ryanne Glasper, PT, DPT
Corey Silbert, PT, DPT, OCS, CFMT
Amy Stein, PT, DPT, BCB-PMDWhat Is FMT?

FMT, or Functional Manual Therapy, is a manual therapy approach developed by the founders of The Institute of Physical Art (IPA), Gregg and Vicky Johnson.  The FMT approach “couples mechanical treatment of joints, soft tissues, visceral and neurovascular systems with manual neuromuscular facilitation to enhance motor control and function”.  (Johnson, Johnson)  FMT is strongly rooted in PNF or Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation – and uses PNF principals to facilitate efficient motion and “unlock every patients potential” (M.Knott)

3 core components are assessed and treated:

•    Mechanical dysfunctions: joint and soft tissue restrictions (i.e. Are there enough players to play the baseball game?)

•    Neuromuscular facilitation: ability to initiate the right muscles at the right time with proper strength and endurance (i.e. Do they know how to play the game? How to play their position?)

•    Motor control: the ability to effectively and consistently produce coordinated postural and movement strategies? (i.e. Are they working as a team? Communicating? If not, lots of practice is needed for the individual players to become a successful team.)

How is the FMT approach different?
FMT’s focus is on FUNCTION. Clinicians utilize functional mobilizations, functional movement patterns, and functional tests to diagnose and treat dysfunction.

•    Functional Mobilizations (FM): involves active involvement of the patient to assist in mobilizing joint/soft tissue restrictions (i.e. contract/relax)

•    Functional Movement Patterns (FMP): involves active/functional movements to trace, isolate and treat joint/soft tissue restrictions

•    Functional Tests: Developed by The Johnsons and utilized to determine presence or absence of components contributing to “Automatic Core Engagement (ACE) or “core first” responses, as well as feeling through the system to determine how the entire kinetic chain is functioning as a unit.  Does the individual have a coordinated and efficient use of core muscles to stabilize the trunk with correct timing, efficient strength, endurance required for task.
•    Vertical Compression Test (VCT)-Assessing the affect of gravity on the alignment of the body as a unit
•    Lumbar Protective Mechanism (LPM) –Is there a core first strategy, is there initiation? Strength? And endurance?
•    Elbow Flexion Test (EFT)- assessing alignment of the shoulder girdle, core first strategy of the RTC and the core muscles, vertical alignment of the shoulder girdle on the rib cage and entire body postural alignment

How can FMT benefit Pelvic Health patients?

•    INCLUSIVE: physical therapy interventions, specifically manual therapy techniques, are often so specific that they do not consider the concomitant dysfunctions in related structures (sacroiliac joint, hips, etc.) that may be contributing to overall PF dysfunction.

•    Implications of restoring efficient movement patterns by utilizing PNF techniques for patient success and to “refresh” the HOMUNCULUS!

•    FUNCTIONAL: emphasis on treating the driver not the symptom – based on assessment of function and restoration of function, not just elimination of symptoms.

(Information cited from IPA course work and website)