Meet Marina Castellanos, Westchester native and Scarsdale resident. She has a masters in physical therapy and specializes in pelvic health and treatment of pelvic floor disorders in women and children. Read our interview below to find out more about Marina, what a pelvic floor physical therapist does and why women’s pelvic health is so important!
Where are you originally from and where do you live now?
I’m a Westchester native! I grew up in Crestwood until I began high school. I currently live in Scarsdale.
How many kids do you have and what are their ages?
I have a 2 year old daughter and an 11 year old stepson.
What are your favorite things to do with your kids?
Dance parties around the house are my toddler’s favorite!
What are your go-to restaurants and shops in the Sound Shore?
We love Patsy’s Pizzeria and DaGiorgio’s!
How do you spend “me time”?
As a small business owner and mom to a busy toddler, “me time” seems to be sparse but I catch up with friends, exercise, anything that I’m called to do that “fills my cup” a little more at that moment.
What made you decide to become a physical therapist, specifically a pelvic floor physical therapist?
I’ve been a physical therapist for over 20 years. I began my career in pediatrics and spent 15 years in the specialty. In 2015 I decided to open a pelvic floor physical therapy practice after personally experiencing pelvic floor dysfunction and pain. I learned first hand how few PTs in the area specialize in pelvic health and felt motivated to help others suffering like I had. Now that I’ve gone through having my own baby, my desire to help women heal has only grown.
What is pelvic floor therapy? How you would describe it to someone who has never heard of it?
First we’d have to address what the pelvic floor is. The pelvic floor is the hammock of muscles that lay at the bottom of our pelvis. They run from the pubic bone to the tail bone and attach to the side walls of the pelvis. The pelvic floor, composed of 3 layers, has several functions including maintenance of our ability to hold in/let go of urine, gas, and feces. It supports our internal organs (ie. uterus, rectum, and bladder), and pumps fluid up and out of the pelvis. The pelvic floor also acts as part of our core support system (along with the abdominals, back muscles, and diaphragm). The pelvic floor also plays a major role in sexual functioning and pleasure. A pelvic floor physical therapist is a healthcare professional who helps people dealing with pelvic floor dysfunction. Dysfunction can come in the form of pelvic pain, pain with sex/intimacy, tailbone/hip pain, bladder and/or bowel dysfunction (ex. leaks, urgency, or constipation), and pelvic organ prolapse. Pelvic floor physical therapists like myself also work with women during pregnancy to address any pain, and help prep for childbirth. I also help women rehabilitate after childbirth whether it’s months or years postpartum.
What should a new patient expect at their first appointment?
They should expect help! I see women for 60-90 minutes at their first appointment. During an initial visit, I perform a holistic head to toe evaluation. Nothing in our bodies works in isolation. Everything is connected. I look at posture, strength, core control, flexibility and functional movement patterns. A pelvic exam may include a gentle internal assessment (no speculum!) to help determine the cause of someone’s symptoms.
What happens during a pelvic floor therapy appointment?
Therapy is tailored to meet the individual needs of every person who enters my office. There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to pelvic floor or postpartum physical therapy. A person will receive individualized guidance to improve their symptoms. Treatments often include retraining muscle coordination, manual therapy, postural re-education, functional movement corrections, and more.
For women who have experienced some pelvic floor weakening after giving birth, where do you recommend they start?
The best place to start is with an evaluation by a pelvic floor physical therapist. Everyone assumes a woman should perform kegels if they suspect pelvic floor weakness. However, if the pelvic floor muscles are in fact tight, as can occur in cases of leakage, kegels may be counterproductive.
Are there any exercises you recommend ALL women do to maintain healthy pelvic floors and core muscles during pregnancy?
So many changes occur during pregnancy! The one exercise I prescribe to all my patients is breathing. In through the nose, expanding the rib cage with some belly expansion as well. This can be tricky for people who are used to breathing into their chest/neck. Breathing serves many purposes in terms of keeping the deep core and pelvic floor engaged.
Why don’t we hear more about pelvic floor during pregnancy and birth?
There are many misconceptions out there. Women are typically told back/hip/pelvic girdle pain during pregnancy are “normal”. We’re told urinary leakage after having children is “normal”. Due to these myths, women are not regularly referred to pelvic floor physical therapy. People confuse “normal” with “common”. Women need to advocate for themselves. Thankfully, in NY state, a person can seek out an evaluation with a physical therapist without a doctor’s referral.
Do you have any recommendations or words of advice for someone who is looking for or trying to choose a pelvic floor physical therapist?
Speak with the physical therapist beforehand to discuss your concerns. Make sure they’re the right fit for you.
How do you juggle motherhood, parenting and owning your own business? Any tips?
Having a vision for what I want to achieve as a parent and a business owner keeps me going. The scale for work-life balance will always be tipped in one direction at any given moment, and I’m okay with that. I’m actually expanding my business to include women’s health coaching services. I thrive on learning and contributing. Being a business owner not only allows me the flexibility to be home with my youngest part time, but it has allowed me to create a practice where I can give me patients the comprehensive care they need, and to grow professionally. I want my children to see that anything is possible with hard work. On my toughest days, I breathe, medicate and stretch whenever I get the opportunity.
Interview by Whitney Spinelli