WHAT IS THE PELVIC FLOOR AND WHY IS SO IMPORTANT TO CONSCIOUSLY WORK IT OUT?
I am deligthed and called to write about this wonderful topic because I have been connected with it deeply during and after my pregnancy. So I feel its the right moment to have a deeper approach on them.
The PELVIC FLOOR is for many an area of embarassment or secret. The emotions that I often hear related to this group of muscles is FEAR of prolapse with AGING, PAIN during lovemaking, SHAME for not being able to contract or relax them, to name a few. Let me tell you that you can strengthen them, and that AGE does not perpetuate you if you´ve been working consciously on them.
This group of muscles can be strengthened with specific exercises, breathing techniques and using props also. I encourage first to work them out on your own, where connection and sensation take place.
Later on, you can allways work them out with a good PILATES WORKOUT.
PILATES should focus on this area from the very first moment for having a major function on stablizing the pelvis, on breathing properly and helping in having good posture. It is also important for body centering, for maintaining a feeling of being carried, for the dialogue with gravity, and for our perception of the ground.
An elastic, powerful pelvic floor has an important role in the health of the sexual organs. The free flow of their energy has an essential effect on our well-being and vitality, as well as on the way we tackle daily life.
So the first thing I consider important to start with is to have a mental picture of them, Mental connection and visualizing them during the workout will make everything much more effective. You can find many anati¡omy pctures on the internet, just choose the one you visualize better.
From an anatomical approach, the pelvic floor muscles form like a little basket inside the pelvic bone that holds the internal organs helping with the intraabdominal pressure and holding the reproductive organs, uterus, bladder and rectus. Normally these muscles get weaker after giving birth or also if you do high impact activities. Causing incontinence, prolapse and sometimes even lower back pain as they cover front and back of the pelvis.
I should point out that also its not just a women muscle. Men should also work these muscles out. I will be more specific about this: men have 2 holes: uretra and ano and women have 3 holes: uretra, ano and vagina. So when you hear about men having prostate problems it could be related to a weakness of this muscles for sure.
Pregnant women should work them out to help in supporting the growing uterus and stretching out during birthing to help the baby come out easily. And Postpartum, this muscles are left weak, over stretched and with bruises so its really important to improve its tone to prevent major damage or prolapse.
So How can we actually feel/find them? During a Pilates session I normally refer to them as the “pipi muscles” 😊, its like holding the pipi, this is one of the easiest ways to find them. Another could be the feeling of those muscles when you sneeze or cough. Did you find them? Just take a moment on what you are doing right now and try it, maybe it helps if you close your eyes. You do not need to move your body, it´s an internal movement and you won´t see anything happening in the mirror.
I will recommend starting sitting, then you can try it laying down face up with feet on the floor, kneeling in all 4, after and lastly standing. Just start practicing this for a couple of weeks. Do 3x 10 reps holding for 3” the first week, 5” the following, and so on until you reach to 10”.
When you feel more confident you could practice just squeezing those muscles while you are sitting on your hands or on a ball and without squeezing the glutes (this is a normal activation that happen at the beginning until we can find this muscles area)
So now that you´ve brought conscious to them in all positions you can do this anytime during the day (nobody will notice it): while driving, cooking or whenever you feel you can do it.
What about breathing? Ok this is as importante as all the rest and it deserves a full post just on breathing but will try to be as clear as possible.
Breathing could be sometimes frustrating for many, as it´s hard to coordinate with the contraction of the pelvic floor and movement. But as everyhting, you need practice and comittment. Just be patient and value every little step you do for your health and body awareness.
Breathing Technique: we are gonna breath in fully to the belly and rib cage while the pelvic floor is relaxed. And as we start to breath out, we start to pick and lift the pelvic floor muscles, sucking everything in and up like a corset or a lift.
Be aware that this breathing could be changed in the last period of pregnancy.
A very important thing I have to point out is that relaxing this muscles is as important as contracting them, because what the pelvic floor need is “flexible strength”. The pelvic floor has to be both flexible and strong at the same time. So please make sure you relax those muscles completely after contracting them.
These are simple exercises you can begin with to work with for awareness, body consciousness and for bringing health to your life. Try to really connect to this muscles, feeling the ENERGY inside your pelvic bowl and maybe also feeling some kind of warmth if you allowed it to. This is a great gift you can give to yourself as they are the bridge área between your upper body and your lower limbs. They participate holding the WOMB, the place where all creations happen: babies, projects, business, dreams. And they are OH! so important in receiving pleasure doing lovemaking 😊. I could be writting for hours about this marvellous muscle but lets leave it for future post…
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I leave with a few words:
..“To achieve a permanent improvement of strength, posture and flexibility we have to change our very patterns of movement, because only when a conscious change takes place on the level of the nervous system will something really change and this is achieved by body-perception”..
-Erik Franklin, “Pelvic Power”, 2002.