As a Pilates Instructor and new Mum, I’m talking about the pelvic floor more than ever during my classes. Attending Pilates and Barre classes (especially Barre Baby) has been crucial in the rehabilitation of my pelvic floor strength since having my little guy, Max. Clients often ask me whether they are engaging their pelvic floor correctly. Let me clear up a few things!
What is it?
The pelvic floor are the layer of muscles attaching from your pubic bone to the tailbone, forming a hammock or sling, and moves like a trampoline. These muscles support the bladder, bowel and uterus, and provide lumbar-pelvic stability.
Why is it important?
When the pelvic floor is strong, it supports the pelvic organs and prevents problems like incontinence and prolapse of the bladder, bowel and uterus. Pregnancy, childbirth, obesity and simply getting older can affect the strength of the pelvic floor. You can get caught out leaking when making sudden movements such as sneezing or coughing.
How do I correctly engage the pelvic floor?
These are the same muscles used to stop the flow of urine when you are going to the toilet. Never grip your pelvic floor; instead it should be a gentle sensation of lifting. You want to be working at 3/10 maximum contraction. As a guide, if you suck your belly in as hard as you possibly could, you would be working at 10/10 effort. The pelvic floor is different – less is more.
So, think of your pelvic floor as a clock face. In a clockwise direction, imagine your pubic bone is 12 o’clock, your right hip is 3 o’clock, your tailbone is 6 o’clock and your left hip is 9 o’clock. Now, squeeze the numbers in the centre gently, and lift them up toward your belly button, and then feel the muscles let go. Hello, Pelvic Floor!
You should activate your pelvic floor before all exercises without holding your breath or clenching your butt. You can start practicing right this very second. Off you go!