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Pilates and the Pelvic Floor

Lisa Mason, Physiotherapist and Pilates Teacher

Recently there has been some debate on what is the most effective way to activate the pelvic floor. Current research has indicated that functional exercises which activate the pelvic floor can be more effective than voluntary activation or “squeeze and release” as these muscles do not work in isolation. The pelvic floor is a group of muscles that form a diamond shaped sling in our pelvis supporting our pelvic organs. It forms the lower part of our “cylinder of support” which is made up of the diaphragm above, transverse abdominis in the front (deep abdominal muscle) and multifidus at the back (deep back muscle). These muscles work together to maintain our intra-abdominal pressure. So it’s important to train them in a way which relates to real life movements. Pilates exercises that are useful to enable activation are dead bugs, bent knee opening, bridging, clams and cat/cow in 4 point kneeling. These should be done daily as part of your exercise routine. As a musculoskeletal physio we can asses your breathwork, posture, deep abdominal activation and muscle balance around your pelvis as these can have an influence on the activation of your pelvic floor. If there is any concern regarding dysfunction it is important to have a referral to or consult with a woman’s health physio who is able to identify the dysfunction and prescribe appropriate exercises and strategies which are indicated. Maree Frost who will be coming to The Well in September is one of Christchurch’s leading Physiotherapists in pelvic health. She will be providing information on the pelvic floor and I will be demonstrating the core stability exercises above.


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