THE PELVIC FLOOR: A SERIES
If you have read anything about Pilates, you’re no doubt familiar with the focus on the pelvic floor. In fact, it may seem as though it’s all anyone talks about. Well, there’s a reason for that, and we wanted to give you a “pelvic floor primer,”, so you understand just how important this muscular group is, and why Pilates in particular, focuses so much attention on it. We’ll spend 4 posts focusing on its importance as it relates to pregnancy and post-natal health, sexual dysfunction, and low back pain.
First, a basic anatomy lesson. The pelvic floor is the muscular base of the abdomen. It stretches front to back from the pubic bone to the tailbone, and side to side, forming the muscular structure to support the bladder and bowel in men, and the uterus, bladder, and bowel in women.
The pelvic floor, like all muscle groups, is designed to support certain functions of the body, and can be become weak, damaged, or strengthened depending on the stressors it encounters.
In Pilates, we see a lot of pelvic floor weakness because a large portion of our clients are women, and pregnancy and childbirth, even without significant trauma, weakens the muscles of the pelvic floor.
Most women are familiar with Kegel exercises to strengthen those muscles, but the pelvic floor is a complex muscular structure.
Kegel exercises, while beneficial, are not enough to restore proper pelvic function because they don’t incorporate any other muscles to improve the overall strength and support.
In contrast, Pilates focuses on core strength, which is not just abdominals and back, but includes the entire center line of the body: feet, ankles, knees, inner thighs, pelvic floor, alignment of ribs/shoulders/hips, and the neck.
Each exercise requires a specific recruitment of muscle groups that frequently rely on the engagement of the pelvic floor muscles. So while you may be performing a roll up, or leg circles, the movement will originate from the pelvic floor and will build, activating small and large muscle groups along the way.
This is why Pilates and pelvic floor strength are practically synonymous; this powerful muscle group is the literal foundation of strength and health in the body.
If you’re experiencing any symptoms of a weak pelvic floor, including:
- urinary and bowel weakness when you cough or sneeze, if severe -leaking
- reduced sexual function and sensation or pain during intercourse
- low back pain when there was none before
- hip pain that increases after long periods of sitting
- pain down the legs, radiating from the low back
It’s time to schedule a Private Session to focus on regaining the strength you need to get better.