Your Pelvic Floor

Overview

Your pelvic floor refers to the set of muscles around your bladder, bottom, and vagina or penis. They form a sling which supports your pelvic organs.

To feel your pelvic floor muscles, imagine that you are trying to stop the flow of urine (although to avoid bladder problems, you should not actually do this regularly). You can also try sucking your thumb!

Strengthening these muscles can help with incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse and improve sex. Pelvic floor exercises are recommended throughout pregnancy and postnatally. We can all benefit by exercising our pelvic floors.

It’s not all about strengthening. We also need to be able to release our pelvic floor muscles to achieve balance. However, we don’t usually emphasise the release aspect in Pilates classes.

Centring

To introduce and practice the overall action of centring in which your pelvic floor plays a part, I often use the pelvic elevator exercise (available as an MP3 on my downloads page).

As you become stronger and more proficient at centring, you may find that the coordination of breathing, centring and movement while exercising, happens subconsciously. This is a learned skill, akin to the mirror-signal-manoeuvre sequence that seemed impossible when we first learnt to drive. In Pilates our aim is to for our muscles to work as much as needed but as little as possible. When you arrive at this stage, you should change your focus to reduce the conscious effort you make, so as to avoid overworking your pelvic floor, or any other set of muscles.

Dysfunction

Doing Pilates exercises will help to strengthen your pelvic floor, but if you have a dysfunction, such as a prolapse or pelvic pain, you may need to do more. Create a daily routine to do your exercises at regular times, or link them to a task, such as boiling the kettle.

Resources

The NHS website has a page with some pelvic floor exercises. The NHS has also developed apps for women and men to get reminders and help with doing pelvic floor exercises.

Nuffield Health recommend the Squeezy app.

There is an excellent pelvic physiotherapy website at pelvicphysiotherapy.com which covers exercises for both release and strengthening.

There are gadgets available for women to help, try a search for ‘pelvic floor app and device‘.

To find out more, I suggest that you do an online search for #pelvicfloor (women), #nutstoguts (men).

Duty to Care Badge

Duty to Care

I have recently been awarded the Duty to Care badge from UK Coaching, which recognises my understanding of the areas of Diversity, Inclusion, Mental Health, Safeguarding and Wellbeing in relation to the sport and physical activity sector.

Pilates in Pregnancy

When you’re pregnant, being active is important for both you and your baby. It can help to keep you both healthy and it’s safe for your developing baby. Being active after your baby is born has lots of benefits too.

It’s usually recommended that you take a break from exercise between 8 and 14 weeks. However, if you regularly did Pilates before you got pregnant, you might agree with your teacher to continue throughout – subject to medical permission. If you are new to Pilates, you should not start until 16 weeks, get medical permission, and attend private sessions or a special ante-natal class, rather than joining a general mat class.

I have completed my ActiveIQ Level 3 Designing Pre and Postnatal Pilates Programmes award, and am insured to teach Pilates to pre and postnatal clients.

pilatesbody tote bags

pilatesbody tote bag

For those of you who are coming to the hall after 17th May 2021, I have a limited supply of pilatesbody bags, which are great for carrying your Pilates stuff to and fro – free while stocks last!

Supervised Teaching

I have recently signed up as a supervising teacher for Body Control Pilates. This means that I will be helping trainee teachers gain practical experience during my mat classes. Trainees have to complete both observation hours and supervised teaching hours.

What does this mean for you?

  • a trainee teacher may come to observe your mat class either online or in person
  • a trainee teacher may teach a couple of exercises during your class (in person only)

#lockdownlife

For 4 weeks from 25 Jan-21st of Feb 2021, CFN will be raising awareness across our social media (Facebook, Insta and Linkedin and Twitter) of all of the wonderful things that instructors and community facilities have been involved in through lockdowns 1, 2 and 3; and all the bits in between to support the physical, mental and social health of our communities. From activity packs, to food parcels and from Clubbercise classes to running groups, instructors have really been an essential service to the UK and beyond. This campaign is to recognise their efforts and give some support back where possible.

#lockdownlife is an initiative from Community Fitness Network (CFN) to raise awareness of the impact that fitness instructors have had in supporting the physical and mental wellbeing of communities throughout the coronavirus crisis. THe social media campaign runs from 25 Jan-21st of Feb 2021.

Support Your Instructor

CFN will donate £10 from each item purchased from the #lockdownlifeline store to the instructor, community facility or brand of your choice.

Centring

In Pilates, we work the pelvic floor muscles together with the deep abdominal muscles and muscles alongside your spine (multifidus), to stabilise your trunk. We call this action centring and it is one of our basic principles. By strengthening these muscles, they are better able to support your back and can help you manage or alleviate back pain.

The pelvic elevator exercise is good for practising the action of centring. You can do it in any position. I suggest that you start by lying on your back and progress to kneeling on all fours. It is available as an MP3 on my downloads page.

If you specifically want to work in this area, read more about your pelvic floor.

Breathing

Joseph Pilates was passionate about the benefits of learning how to breathe efficiently. He said:

“Before any real benefit can be derived from physical exercises, one must first learn how to breathe properly. Our very life depends on it.”

Breathing for Pilates

In Pilates, breathing is one of our basic principles. We practise lateral or thoracic breathing. This is to encourage the expansion of the lower ribs into the sides and into the back. The breathing patterns specified for each exercise are to facilitate movement and aid stability. Effective use of the breath can also help the mind to relax, focus and recharge.

Breathing to Relieve Back Pain

With persistent back pain, muscles often feel tense and tight. A breathing exercise, such as breathing in for a count of 7 and out for a count of 11, can calm the nervous system so as to relax tense muscles and prevent sudden spasms of back pain.

Breathing for Insomnia

If you suffer from poor sleep, a deep breathing trick can help. A US expert recommends the 4-7-8 method to help you relax and fall asleep. The trick is breathing in for four counts, holding for seven seconds, then exhale completely for eight counts. Repeat these steps two and four times. Read more in this breathing trick can induce sleep article from The Telegraph.

Update to post first published 25th April 2017

Alignment

The first basic principle is alignment, which refers to bringing your body into its ideal posture, where your joints are in their optimal position in relation to each other and your muscles are doing the minimum amount of work to hold them there.

Without good alignment, you risk extra wear and tear on your joints and extra aches in your muscles which may tire from overuse or become weak from lack of use.

When performing our Pilates exercises, we focus on starting in and then holding good form as we move, so as to reinforce the correct alignment of our joints and retrain our muscles to maintain that alignment.

results in perfect posture when sitting, standing or walking…

Joseph Pilates