Weakness in the Pelvic floor can happen to anyone. We typically think about it in relation to women after childbirth but it can happen for a whole host of reasons, including, hormonal changes during menopause, pelvic surgery, chronic constipation and straining or high impact such as heavy lifting.
Pilates can help pelvic floor problems by focussing on and engaging the pelvic floor muscles during specific exercises. These exercises help to strengthen and tone the pelvic floor which can improve its function and stability.
In Pilates we activate the core muscles, the pelvic floor is an integral part of the core. By strengthening the deep core muscles including the pelvic floor you can enhance overall core stability and support for the pelvis and surrounding structures.
Pilates promotes body awareness and mindful movement. Through precise movements and conscious engagement or the pelvic floor on its own and while doing Pilates exercises you can develop a better understanding of this area an learn to control and release the muscles as needed.
The easiest position to start working your pelvic floor muscles is lying on your back with your knees bent. Good posture and alignment in this position and when you are doing pelvic floor exercises in other positions is essential for optimal pelvic floor activation. Pilates exercises focus on improving posture, alignment and body mechanics, which can alleviate excessive pressure on the pelvic floor and help it work more efficiently.
How to activate your pelvic floor muscles
Imagine you are about to pass wind and it is really not a good time! So you squeeze the muscles to stop the wind escaping. Then, think about that squeeze coming from the back underneath and round to the front. The area you are lifting is essentially the area that would be in contact with a large gym ball if you were sitting on it with your legs slightly apart.
For men imagine it’s a hot day you are walking into the sea to cool off the water is colder than you expected, you are up to your thighs and a big wave rolls in and you lift the crown jewels in an attempt to keep them out the cold!
Really important- you must always consciously relax your pelvic floor after doing pelvic floor exercises. This is to prevent over activation which can lead to problems such as constipation, or tightness causing pain during sex.