Pilates for Pelvic Floor Health & Strengthening + A Must-Try Exercise
The pelvic floor – not to be mistaken for a new viral TikTok dance (though I always appreciate the opportunity to bust out some moves) – is a pivotal part of the female anatomy.
These muscles, which are too-often labeled “taboo” or neglected, serve as the foundation for the core of your body.
Unfortunately, the pelvic floor isn’t a topic that’s regularly spotlighted in pop culture headlines – meaning no swarm of paparazzi bees buzzing around the subject like it’s deliciously sweet honey.
A bulk of the time, we aren’t even exposed to information about the pelvic floor until a problem arises. Yet, it’s critically important to our health and wellbeing.
Tell Me More About This Mysterious Pelvic Floor
Put simply, your pelvic floor encompasses a group of muscles, connective tissue, and ligaments that reside at the base (read: floor) of the pelvis. These structures are not only responsible for stabilizing the pelvis, but they also support organs like the uterus and bladder, which are located in your lower abdominal cavity. Together with your back and abdomen, your pelvic floor is part of the central group of muscles used to develop core strength during Pilates exercises.
Got It! So, Why Should Us Women Work on Strengthening Our Pelvic Floor?
Unless you’re a huge Fifty Shades of Grey fan and have explored some of the “trinkets” featured in the novels and movies, you likely aren’t ranking pelvic floor exercises high on your workout priority list.
I’m going to dish a little tough love here and say moving forward, they should be. And I’m speaking, in particular, to my fellow ladies out there. Why? Well, the truth is, a majority of us (at some point or another) have a precious bundle of joy resting upon our pelvic floor throughout the entire 9 months of pregnancy. When delivering a little angel vaginally, it causes the pelvic floor to stretch an estimated 300% of its regular length. On top of that, we’ll experience a whirlwind of hormonal changes, including menopause, that comes along with being such beautiful and fearless warriors.
All of these milestones and life events wind up placing a heavy amount of stress on the pelvic floor. That means it’s pivotal for us to strengthen our muscles and prepare them for all life throws our way. Otherwise, we are vulnerable to pelvic floor dysfunction – a condition that can greatly impact our quality of life.
Signs That Indicate Your Pelvic Floor is Weak
Wondering what type of red flags to keep your eyes peeled for? If you experience leaking with exercise, coughing, or sneezing, a dragging or heavy sensation in the pelvis, or find yourself unable to dash fast enough to the bathroom, it may be an indication that you need to focus on strengthening your pelvic floor muscles.
Pilates Exercises for Strengthening Your Pelvic Floor
Before you get started, let’s make sure you have all the pointers needed for efficiently working the pelvic floor and core.
1 | Controlled, Mindful Breathing
A large facet of practicing Pilates requires focused breathing techniques. It may seem silly at first, but by placing an emphasis on how you breathe, you’ll reap a multitude of benefits like an enhanced mind-body connection, higher energy levels, and reduced stress and anxiety.
Here’s what to do: envision your rib cage and lungs as an umbrella opening up as you take in air. The goal is to feel 360 degrees of movement, including at the base of your lungs. If you find yourself struggling, make sure you’re not over bracing your abdominals – working your core efficiently requires practice (not just squeezing).
2 | Keep Your Spine Neutral & Maintain Pelvic Alignment
Regardless of whether an exercise requires you to stand or lie on a mat, focus on maintaining a small, natural arch beneath your lower back. Ensure you position your rib cage so it’s stacked directly over your hips and tuck your chin in slightly.
3 | Activate Your Pelvic Floor
Don’t know how to work your pelvic floor muscles? I promise there’s no need to blush – it’s very common, especially when it comes to incorporating those muscles into your exercise routine. A good way to think about it is, if you really had to pee (or pass gas – yes, it happens to everyone), what would you do to try and stop it?
That action is...drum roll...your pelvic floor! The movement should cause a lifting and squeezing feeling in both the front and back passage. You should NOT feel any tension in your hips or as if your abdominal area is bulging outwards
One Must-Try Pilates Exercise for Your Pelvic Floor
Everyone is unique when it comes to their level of athleticism – and that’s a beautiful thing. So, to accommodate all levels here’s one exercise that has three levels of progression depending on your skill level
HIP ROLLS – LEVEL 1
PROGRESSION: SHOULDER BRIDGE PREP – LEVEL 2
PROGRESSION: SHOULDER BRIDGE FULL – LEVEL 3
Looking for a simple way to incorporate Pilates exercises focused on strengthening your core and pelvic floor muscles into your everyday routine? Then you’re going to LOVE The Pilates Club.