The pelvic floor is a group of muscles, ligaments and connective tissue in the lower pelvic region. It acts as support of your inner organs, keeping them in place and helping them function properly.
The muscles of your pelvic floor - like any other muscle in the body - must have the ability to lengthen and shorten. When we lose this ability, we refer to it as pelvic floor dysfunction. If not corrected, this can lead to pain, incontinence, and - in women - uterine prolapse.
I use the Encyclopedia regularly, and love the cueing emails. The videos with their very detailed explanations are great for covering everything you need to know about each exercise. I like the variations to expand the ones I use already. The programming and sequencing section is very useful for giving me new ideas or confirming I am on the right track if I have someone who has a specific goal or injury.
~ Wendy, New Zealand
Pilates offers many exercises that are safe to be practiced with pelvic floor dysfunction, and even more than that, prevent dysfunction before it gets too severe. As always a few things need to be kept in mind. Here are some guidelines and exercises to get you started:
If severe, practice supine only or in an inclined position (pelvis higher than your shoulders) by - for example - using a wedge with the pelvis on the higher part, the head on the lower part.
To shorten your pelvic floor muscles, think about drawing your sit bones closer together. This will strengthen or tighten your pelvic floor. To lengthen your pelvic floor muscles, think about spreading your sit bones further apart. This will reduce tension.
Feet in Straps: If severe place large wedge under torso to elevate pelvis
Lying Flat: Hamstring Curls and Frogs
Bent Knee Openings
Side to Side (small ROM)
To see even more exercises and guidelines for pelvic floor dysfunction, check out the Programming & Sequencing chapter of the Pilates Encyclopedia. You'll even get videos and detailed instructions of each exercise!
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