The sensitive nature and societal norms around sexuality and elimination make the concept of pelvic dysfunction and function sometimes awkward, mysterious, and challenging to understand. This blog hopes to better explain the role of the pelvic floor in the context of the Pilates movement.
The pelvic floor is dome-shaped and it is the foundation for the trunk. It encloses the contents of the pelvis: bladder, rectum, and uterus in women. Often the reference is to the soft tissue structures that bind the bottom of the pelvic bones. These dynamic structures hold the pelvic organs, support core stability, and assist in keeping the function of the bowel, bladder, and sexual systems. The pelvic floor aids in regulating the excretion and storage of urine and stool and gives stability for movement.
Although our pelvic floor does not require awareness, control, or thought to function, it is used throughout Pilates exercises to give strength and stability to the trunk. A great way to play around with the breath and pelvic floor are moving between neutral, posterior, and anterior positions of the pelvis while lying supine. The pelvic floor will function without engagement but with engagement, the muscles give support to the movement in Pilates. Pilates plays a role in bringing awareness and focus to this area while acknowledging that the nervous system is ultimately in charge.
Mindful movement in Pilates allows the relationship between body landmarks, structural alignment, posture, and breath to unite. This is true both when we are moving, lying down, on our sides, prone as well as when we are staying upright. This results in ease, efficiency, and flow in the way we move. It is important to recognize, however, that the main focus in Pilates is addressing the “whole” mind, body, and spirit and not just the pelvic floor.
Every person has different needs and Pilates offers a wonderful, safe platform for each person to self-discovery, grow, learn and heal. It is a great way to stay strong and restore balance from the inside out.