ABC Tips for Beginners – Part 3 (3-minute read)
At the end of the Pilates ABC is C for Centering.
“Engage your powerhouse”
“Draw the zipper”
“Recruit the pelvic floor” …
In the Pilates language, you might have heard of Pilates instructor or practitioner saying these common terms and phrases. Have you ever questioned ‘What is the pelvic floor?’, ‘What does the pelvic floor do?’ ‘How can we find it or to feel the engagement?’, ‘How does Pilates exercise help us to strengthen the pelvic floor?’, ‘Why is it important in your Pilates practice?’, and ‘How to recruit the pelvic floor?
The article that I have come across on verywellfit.com would certainly help you answer some these questions. It is titled “Use Pilates to Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor Muscles - Learn to do your Kegels” written by Marguerite Ogle, updated on February 16, 2018. Click here to read on. (It is also re-posted at the bottom of this post)
It is worthy to note that the writer was likely referring to the classical mat Pilates series or other school of Pilates when she wrote, “You might be wondering if there is a particular Pilates exercise that is just for the pelvic floor muscles. The answer is, not really.”
This is not true.
Body Control Pilates method is known for breaking down the classical mat Pilates into an in-depth digestible chunks of Pilates exercises to help everyone to learn Pilates thoroughly. In our Pilates Exercise Manual, there are a few exercises for practicing the pelvic floor engagement. One of them is Pelvic Elevator.
Pelvic Floor Engagement Practice Exercise – Pelvic Elevator
Starting position:Sit with your legs crossed or in frog position and maintain the neutral spine with a lengthening sensation. Then begin to inhale widely and deeply to the side and the back of the ribs. While you are sensing the rise and fall of the body while you are breathing, feel how open your chest is and arms are relaxed and draping down the side, you can place your hand on your knees or just rest them on the side of your body.
Beginning the exercise:Maintaining that gentle Pilates breathing and awareness of your body movement, close your eyes and use imagery to visualize your pelvic floor as the door of an elevator. As you breath out, gently close the door of the elevator by drawing both sides together and then draw the elevator up to 1stfloor. Then, take an in-breath to hold, when you breath out, lower the elevator back down and open the door. Repeat and try go to the 2ndfloor, 3rdfloor to feel the changes of the level of recruitment.
[Tips: to close the door of your elevator, do it like you are zipping up a zipper, starting from the back passage (anus) to the front.]
In the next post, I would share the suggestions from Lynne Robinson from Body Control Pilates on beginners Pilates exercises to develop good core control.
- Karen Leung, Head of Pilates at Mindful Pilates in Central Hong Kong
The article reposted below is written by Marguerite Ogle, updated on February 16, 2018. Please follow this link to the original article https://www.verywellfit.com/the-pelvic-floor-muscles-2704828
Use Pilates to Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor Muscles
Learn to do your Kegels
By Marguerite Ogle
Updated February 16, 2018
The pelvic floor muscles are the foundation for the core of the body. They both help stabilize the pelvis and support the organs of the lower abdominal cavity, such as the bladder and uterus. The pelvic floor muscles, along with the deep muscles of the back and abdomen, from the group of muscles we work when we focus on developing core strength, as we do in Pilates. The word powerhouse refers to this group of muscles as well as the abdominals and gluteals.
You can think of the pelvic floor muscles as a web of interrelated muscles, tendons, and ligaments that form a supportive hammock at the base of the pelvic bowl. One of these muscles, the Pubococcygeus, also known as the PC or PCG muscle, goes around the openings for the urethra, vagina, and anus. When the pelvic floor muscles are weak or damaged, the integrity of these openings can be compromised.
You might not pay any attention to your pelvic floor until something goes awry. Childbirth, chronic coughing, aging, and inactivity are among the common causes of weakened or damaged pelvic floor muscles. 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.
Some less dramatic effects of an impaired pelvic floor are the structural imbalances that lead to abdominal and back pain.
When asymmetries in the body occur patterns of compensation can ensue leading to poor biomechanics, inflammation, and injury.
For both men and women, maintaining and strengthening the pelvic flooris vital. The go-to exercise is called Kegels, so named after the inventor Dr. Kegel. Read on to learn how to perform this targeted move.
Exercises that Strengthen the Pelvic Floor Muscles
Kegels are very specific to the pelvic floor. To do them, you squeeze the muscles of the pelvic floor as if you were going to stop the flow of urine when you go to the bathroom. Use stopping the flow of urine a few times to find the muscles you need, but do not use it as a way to practice Kegels in general as constantly stopping the flow of urine can weaken, rather than strengthen, the pelvic floor. Kegels are most well-known for helping women recover muscle tone after pregnancy, but they are good for all of us.
Pilates is also an excellent exercise for strengthening the pelvic floor. In Pilates, the pelvic floor muscles are used in their role as natural muscular support for movement. This is a firm and sustained engagement of the muscles where one is pulling the pelvic floor in and up as part of exercises where abdominal musclesas well as other muscles, are involved. The degree of engagement you use should be balanced with the amount of exertion you need to perform the Pilates exercise you are doing. Knee folds, for example, might require just the slightest activation whereas an intense exercise like the hundredwill call for a lot more from the pelvic floor and abs.
Finding Pelvic Floor Muscles
The catch here is that the pelvic floor muscles can be hard to feel when you are exercising or moving through daily life. "Engage the pelvic floor" is a common cue in Pilates instruction, but many students are unsure about how to get that to happen.
My favorite image for getting the pelvic floor muscles in on an exercise is to think of bringing the sit bones together and up. Another good image is to think of drawing a fountain of energy up from the base of the pelvic bowl—up through the middle of the body, and out the top of the head. This image helps connect the in and up actions with the other core muscles, and an increased awareness of the mid-line of the body.
You might be wondering if there is a particular Pilates exercise that is just for the pelvic floor muscles. The answer is, not really. You want to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles by using them to support your alignment and movement throughout your workout. So, find your pelvic floor muscles with Kegel exercises(use the stopping the flow of urine trick if you need it), then apply that understanding to engaging your pelvic floor in your Pilates exercises.