Have You Found Your Pelvic Floor Yet?
|Pelvic Floor Exercises
For those of you who are long term, regular Pilates goers, you will know and hopefully understand by now, why we use the pelvic floor muscles and how to engage them. However, as a teacher I am often asked how to locate the pelvic floor muscles and why it is so important to switch them on when doing Pilates!
Well first of all, Pilates fan or not, a healthy pelvic floor (more so for women than for men) is crucial at all stages of our lives. The pelvic floor is a sling of muscles (shaped a little like a hammock) that supports the urethra, bladder, uterus and rectum. Many women know that they should regularly exercise their pelvic floor, but it's surprising that very little actually do. Of course it is equally important for men to engage their pelvic floor muscles too when exercising, so you don't have to feel left out!
|The Pelvic Floor
Reasons why we should practice our pelvic floor exercises;
- to avoid incontinence problems as we get older
- to help support pregnancy
- to discourage pelvic disease
- to improve our sex lives
- to protect and strengthen the spine
Why is it so important to use our pelvic floor in Pilates?
The reason we use our pelvic floor muscles in Pilates is because they help to stabilise and strengthen the core. By engaging these muscles, it helps to activate the deepest abdominal muscle, the transverses which is the profound muscle that wraps around the spine and helps to protect the it, as well as helping you to achieve a nice flat tummy! Of course once you have learnt how to use your pelvic floor correctly, you can apply this to any type of exercise that you do and in every day activities like walking, driving and sitting at your desk, not just when practising Pilates.
So how do we locate the pelvic floor, I hear you ask? Yes, it's all very well us trainers harping on about switching on these muscles, but where exactly is the switch?!
There are a few ways to practice locating your pelvic floor and the great news is that you don't have to be on a reformer to do it! In fact you can practice right now whilst reading this blog....
It's always helpful to have an image of how these muscles work and I like to imagine an internal zip. The zip starts right under the sling of muscles and draws up inside all the way up to the belly button.You could also imagine the sit bones squeezing together, or you could practice whilst passing urine. By gently stopping the flow, you are activating the pelvic floor. (Just make sure you don't do this too often as it can potentially cause cystitis.) Once you have zipped up, lifted or switched on your pelvic floor muscles you should then continue by sinking the navel back to the spine. This completes the 'switching on' process that is required to protect the spine whilst excising and help to activate those deep abdominal muscles, which will help achieve ultimate core strength.
Hope this makes things a little clearer.... just remember, if in doubt, zip it up!;)