When we have a strong “core” the body is able to work more optimally, efficiently, prevent injury and give you better posture. The core is a combination of our spinal flexors and extensors, pelvic floor, spinal lateral flexors and rotators, hip flexors, extensors, external and internal rotators as well as the hip abductors and adductors. The muscle groups that affect the pelvic complex have a direct affect on what happens above the pelvis and what happens below the pelvis. In Pilates we aim to address correct alignment to balance the muscle groups and we strive for ideal posture and function.
Muscles are “coupled” together for effective movement patterns, co-contractions and function. The abdominals are a group of muscles that supports the back and takes pressure off the spine. Most people in their life will suffer from back pain, but by having a strong core one is less likely to experience this. The spine has a very interesting shape and the abdominals are able to support this structure, particularly the lower spine; the mid and upper back take better care of the upper spine. Working from a neutral position and neutral spine allows the body to work optimally. This can only happen if the muscles around the bony structures are balanced in strength and mobility.
The most important of the abdominal muscles in terms of stabilization is the transverse abdominals and even the obliques. These muscles play a huge role in stabilization and movement of the spine in flexion, lateral flexion and rotation. The transverse abdominals and obliques are essential for the generation of intra-abdominal pressure. The diaphragm, pelvic floor and abdominal wall muscles regulate the intra-abdominal pressure (Hodges et al., 2007). IAP increases during postural activity (Hodges and Gandevia, 2000), resulting in a contraction and expansion of the abdominal wall due to muscle activity. Knowing why we move, how to move, when to move and where to move the abdominals is key to strengthening the core. Pilates gives you the tools to create better awareness of your body in movement both in Pilates as well as in your daily living.
The pelvic floor muscles is another important muscle that plays a role in support, stabilization and good optimal overall function to the body. Pelvic floor muscles support the bladder, bowel and the uterus (Pelvic Floor, 2021). They prevent incontinence of bladder and bowel, prolapse and are also important in sexual function (Pelvic Floor, 2021) The pelvic floor can be weakened by many different factors such as pregnancy, childbirth, prostate cancer treatment, obesity and the straining of chronic constipation (Pelvic Floor, 2021).
Not all ranges of movements are for everybody - some movements can be contrindictors. What is good for one body is not necessarily good for another. This is also true when doing Pilates, exercising, and moving through ranges of movement patterns. For a healthy spine we aim to work as many different ranges of motion, add appropriate intensity and enough overload to gain strength, work through correct mechanics and muscle recruitment and utilize intra-abdominal pressure.
Pilates is seen as one of the most ideal forms of exercise to condition the core, give you optimal health and address the mind and body. In our Enerchi Fitness studio we feel it is important to know our clients, your restrictions, injuries, treatments, medical conditions, level of fitness as well as your approach to well-being. We address the “whole” - mind, body and spirit.
Pelvic Floor - Better Health Channel. 2021. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/pelvic-floor#:~:text=Pelvic%20floor%20muscles%20support%20the%20bladder%2C%20bowel%20and%20the%20uterus,the%20straining%20of%20chronic%20constipation.