Sara Meeks has been a practicing physical therapist since 1962 and the “Meeks Method” of physical therapy is one of the methods of arresting pelvic pain that we utilize at Fitness Matters. It’s an important treatment modality for women’s health, because women tend to struggle more with bone density due to pregnancy and childbirth. Postpartum pelvic pain, sciatica and other issues that commonly impact female patients can be prevented, stopped or reversed by utilizing the Meeks Method. Here’s a look at the twelve steps of the Meeks Method and how they can be used to improve your health.
1. Pre-Assessment and Assessment
The pre-assessment is when your physical therapist at Fitness Matters first talks with you about your symptoms and health history. This is to figure out if you are at risk for osteoporosis or osteopenia. You’ll be asked about risk factors and any symptoms you may have, such as pain, weakness and whether you have a history of falls.
Your assessment will be a series of tests to figure out your actual physical condition. This will include an absolute fracture risk test, known as a FRAX. Your therapist will also check your balance and gait, body height, range of motion, strength and functional ability. All of these tests are performed to set a baseline, so that your physical therapy regimen can measure actual results.
A big part your physical therapy at Fitness Matters will involve empowering you so that you understand your specific medical condition. Your therapist will help you to understand your personal medical tests. You will also be directed to good educational resources to learn more.
3. Site-Specific Exercise
The Meeks Method will involve exercises that you can do with your physical therapist or on your own that will strengthen the spine and hips. Muscle contraction in this areas has been proven to be one of the most important determinants of your body’s bone density. Stronger muscles lead to stronger bones, which reduces the risk of fracture. Other muscles focused on in the Meeks Method will include your abdominals, diaphragm and pelvic floor.
4. Body Mechanics
People frequently injure themselves while carrying out simple, everyday activities like bending over to pet the cat or picking up their groceries from the trunk of the car. Your physical therapist will teach your proper body mechanics through the Meeks Method to avoid these types of common injuries and reduce the risk of fractures.
5. Posture Correction
Osteoporosis, poor pelvic health and other symptoms can impact your posture. Physical therapy can help to correct any posture issues you may have, which in turn strengthens bone and muscle structures. Having good posture will also help to alleviate back pain and other symptoms.
Balance exercises are a huge part of the Meeks Method. A fracture can be a terrifying or even life-threatening event for a person with osteoporosis. Better balance will help to prevent you from falling in the first place.
7. Weight-Bearing Exercise
This is not the same as weight lifting. Weight-bearing exercises are done to help you carry your body weight more properly through the bones. Walking is an example of a weight-bearing exercise. Your pelvic therapy may also involve exercises while in a hands/knee position or leaning against a wall.
Some physical pain or discomfort might arise as a result of exercise during the Meeks Method, especially if you are not used to very much exercise. Physical therapy modalities can be used to help alleviate this pain, so that your therapy will be successful. These modalities can include hot and cold packs, electrical stimulation of the muscles, massage or ultrasound.
For patients with osteoporosis and others with long-standing posture problems, they may not be able to maintain their improved posture that results from the Meeks Method. For these patients, a back brace will be recommended. Some modern back braces are even able to help strengthen the muscles of the back as they support the spine. If you need a back brace, your physical therapist will teach you everything you need to know about wearing it.
Posture problems can compromise a person’s lung function, leading to additional health problems. The Meeks Method helps to strengthen the diaphragm muscles, which are an integral part of breathing and supporting the back. You’ll learn proper breathing exercises as part of your physical therapy.
Many women experience fear, anxiety or depression due to the diagnosis of osteoporosis or other painful conditions. The Meeks Method includes relaxation techniques to help you cope with these conditions.
12. Advanced Exercises
As the final step in the Meeks Method, you will learn how to safely move on from physical therapy to a more advanced exercise program, such as a Yoga or Pilates class. This step usually happens after six to eight weeks of working with a physical therapist at Fitness Matters
Contact Fitness Matters about the Meeks Method
If you’re concerned about your pelvic health, osteoporosis or other conditions that impact your spine and overall well-being, contact us at Fitness Matter to set up an appointment with a Physical Therapist.