by Heather Burgoyne, Owner, Soar Pilates
As I work — and socialize — with so many women, discussions on the effects pre and post pregnancy have on our bodies, as well as the ongoing changes our bodies go through as we shift through seasons of our lives, comes up regularly.
More specifically, the weakening of the pelvic floor. When I was going through my Pilates training, I was taught to think of the pelvic floor as a basket (the muscles) that holds the most important fruits in our body, the bladder and bowel, as well as the uterus and vagina in females.
The pelvic floor works with your deep abdominals, back muscles and diaphragm to stabilize and support your spine. They help control downward pressure and strain when lifting heavy objects or exercising, and they play an active role in our sexual pleasure.
And perhaps most importantly, they keep us from peeing and pooping our pants!
The pelvic floor is perhaps one of the most focused on muscles in the Pilates practice. When Pilates is practiced properly, the pelvic floor is almost automatically toned and strengthened. It is engaged simply through our breath as it works with our diaphragm.
Our inhale opens and expands the muscles while our exhale contracts and lifts them. It is important to remember when exercising to exhale from the base of our pelvis and let that contraction go upward to lift and support our movement.
By acknowledging what is seemingly a small but mighty muscle, you are stabilizing the foundation of your body and gaining strength and overall well-being.
When I’m teaching, often I cue to lift from the pelvic floor through the crown of your head. You will now know that what you are lifting are your inner most important fruits, and they are thanking you for taking care of them.