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The Pelvic Floor - What is it and how can Pilates help?




Imagine your pelvic floor as the unsung hero of your body—often overlooked but indispensable for overall health. Your pelvic floor plays a vital role in maintaining pelvic organ function, core stability, and movement efficiency. Yet, its significance is often underestimated or misunderstood. Today, we'll explore how Pilates can be a game-changer in strengthening this essential part of your anatomy.


What is the Pelvic Floor?





Your pelvic floor is a dynamic system intricately connected to your core, hips, and spine. This hammock-like or dome-shaped structure forms the foundation of your core and cradles your pelvic organs—the bladder, rectum, and uterus (in women)—while providing crucial support for everyday activities. Its role is multifaceted and indispensable, from maintaining continence to supporting spinal alignment during movement and acting as a ‘shock absorber’ during certain movements. 


The pelvic floor operates in conjunction with other muscles and organs within the body, for example, the urethra and anus to help move the bodily waste out of the body. Well-functioning pelvic floor muscles should be contracting and releasing at different times throughout your day, operating without conscious input, much like our other internal organs like the muscles of the heart. However, unlike the heart, we can also consciously contract the muscles of the pelvic floor, much like ‘flexing’ any other muscle in the body. 


What can go wrong with the Pelvic Floor?


So what happens if these muscles are not ‘well-functioning’ or have been weakened or injured? Dysfunctional pelvic floor muscles can create problems such as incontinence, discomfort during intercourse and in severe cases organ prolapse.


The pelvic floor muscles can become slightly compromised in various ways, some of the more obvious ways include; injury, pregnancy, childbirth and surgery. However, there are other factors which can influence the functioning of the pelvic floor, these include; frequent constipation, too much heavy lifting, hormonal changes for example menopause and even some diseases that can play a role in weakening the pelvic floor, such as diabetes. 


One of the lesser-known elements that can impact the pelvic floor is stress. The pelvic floor is controlled by the automatic nervous system which is influenced by moments of high stress, and more importantly chronic stress. Being able to release or relax the pelvic floor is as important as our body's ability to contract it. Having a tight or hypertonic pelvic floor comes with almost as many conditions as a weak pelvic floor does. 


How can Pilates help?


Pilates, with its emphasis on breath control, mindful movement and core engagement, offers a perfect synergy for pelvic floor health, addressing both a weak or hypertonic pelvic floor. It has been proven that the contraction of various core muscles, such as the transverse abdomins while coupled with breathing techniques and awareness around the diaphragm can assist in improving the functioning of the pelvic floor. 

Unlike isolated exercises like Kegels, which focus solely on pelvic floor contractions, Pilates takes a holistic approach integrating breathing patterns, alignment, and full-body awareness to address pelvic floor stability and functioning. It is important, however, to seek a medical professional’s advice if you have experienced a major injury or chronic pelvic floor dysfunction. 


Benefits of Pilates for Pelvic Floor Health:


Whole Body Integration:

Pilates views the body as a unified system, emphasising the connection between the pelvic floor, core muscles, and breathing muscles. Rather than isolating the pelvic floor, Pilates exercises engage multiple muscle groups, promoting balanced strength and stability.


Breath Coordination:

Proper breathing is fundamental in Pilates, with each movement synchronised with inhalation and exhalation. This rhythmic breathing pattern not only enhances oxygenation but also facilitates optimal pelvic floor function, combining the movements of the diaphragm and the pelvic floor to promote relaxation and activation as needed.


Postural Alignment:

Pilates promotes optimal spinal, hip and pelvic alignment and emphasises posture and alignment while moving, reducing undue pressure on the pelvic floor. By cultivating awareness of alignment cues and movement patterns, Pilates helps alleviate strain on the pelvic floor, contributing to long-term health.


Mind-Body Connection:

Pilates fosters a profound mind-body connection, encouraging mindfulness and body awareness. By tuning into subtle sensations and cues, clients can develop a deeper understanding of pelvic floor engagement and function.


Incorporating Pilates into Your Routine:

Whether you're a seasoned Pilates enthusiast or a newcomer to the practice, integrating pelvic floor awareness into your workouts can yield significant benefits. It is important to start with beginner sessions or individual introductory sessions to start with the basic movements and gain an understanding of these more intricate areas. Remember, consistency is key—commit to regular practice, and you'll soon reap the rewards of a stronger, more resilient pelvic floor.



Pilates offers a holistic approach to pelvic floor health, emphasising integration, breath, and mindful movement. By incorporating Pilates exercises into your routine, you can strengthen your pelvic floor, enhance core stability, and promote overall well-being. So, why wait? Take the first step towards a healthier, more vibrant you with Pilates and unlock the potential of your pelvic floor!

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