“Lift the pelvic floor while scooping the abdominals in and up.” This is a cue you’ve probably heard if you’ve ever tried Pilates. If you engage both the pelvic floor and the abdominals, you instantly appear longer through the torso, your movement feels strong and your balance is increased.
Since these muscles at the base of the pelvis are not seen unless you search for a diagram on Google, it can be hard to know if you are engaging them correctly, or at all. One visual cue that often helps, is to imagine gathering and lifting the two sitting bones and the pubic bone. Picture these three points as the base of triangular prism, now lift these muscles up to the very tip of this three dimensional triangle. This action should happen in almost every Pilates exercise. Pilates whether on the mat or on the reformer incorporates the whole body with emphasis on the deep abdominals, pelvic floor, and back muscles.
Why do we need to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles?
In women, the pelvic floor is the muscles, ligaments, connective tissues and nerves that support the bladder, uterus, vagina and rectum and help these pelvic organs function. Childbirth, chronic coughing, aging, and inactivity are among the common causes of weakened or damaged pelvic floor muscles. Almost one-quarter of women face pelvic floor disorders, according to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health. The study found that pelvic floor disorders affect about 10 percent of women ages 20 to 39, 27 percent of women ages 40 to 59, 37 percent of women ages 60 to 79 and nearly half of women age 80 or older. Once weakened, the pelvic floor can lead to problems like incontinence, diminished sexual enjoyment, and in severe cases, a dropping of the organs into the pelvic muscles known as Prolapse.
Do men have pelvic floor muscles too? Yes. In men, the pelvic floor includes the muscles, tissues and nerves that support the bladder, rectum and other pelvic organs.
Bottom line - do Pilates regularly - strengthen your pelvic floor and the rest of your body while you're at it! Come check out our bi-weekly mat Pilates classes or try a private or duet on the reformer at 360 Energy in Motion in the heart of Brickell. 175 SW 7th St. #1523 Miami, FL 33130.