Pilates is a popular form of exercise that focuses on strengthening the core muscles, improving flexibility, and promoting overall body awareness. In recent years, pilates has gained attention for its potential benefits for the pelvic floor, a group of muscles and connective tissue that supports the bladder, uterus, and rectum. Here’s what you need to know about pilates and its potential benefits for the pelvic floor, whether it is safe if you have pelvic floor problems, and when to see a pelvic floor specialist or prolapse specialist.
What is the pelvic floor?
The pelvic floor is a group of muscles and connective tissue that supports the bladder, uterus, and rectum. These muscles play a crucial role in controlling bowel and bladder function, as well as sexual function. Weakness or dysfunction in the pelvic floor muscles can lead to urinary incontinence, faecal incontinence, pelvic organ prolapses, and sexual dysfunction.
How does pilates help the pelvic floor?
Pilates is a low-impact exercise that emphasises controlled movements and proper alignment and is often highly recommended by pelvic floor specialists. Many of the exercises in pilates involve engaging the core muscles, including the pelvic floor muscles. By practicing pilates regularly, women can improve the strength and endurance of their pelvic floor muscles, reducing the risk of pelvic floor problems.
Additionally, pilates can help to improve overall posture and alignment, reducing pressure on the pelvic floor and supporting healthy bowel and bladder function. pilates exercises such as the pelvic tilt, bridge, and bird dog can specifically target the pelvic floor muscles, helping to improve their strength and flexibility.
Is pilates safe for women with pelvic floor problems?
For women with pelvic floor problems, it’s important to work with a prolapse specialist as well as a qualified pilates instructor who has experience working with individuals with pelvic floor issues. Women with pelvic floor problems may need to modify certain exercises or avoid certain movements to prevent exacerbating their symptoms.
Additionally, it’s important to engage in a holistic approach to pelvic floor health, which may include pelvic floor physical therapy, lifestyle modifications, and other exercises to complement pilates. Here, your pelvic floor specialist or prolapse specialist can give you expert advice.
Can pilates treat pelvic floor problems?
While pilates is very useful for preventing pelvic floor problems or helping to support recovery if your muscles are weak, it cannot treat severe pelvic floor problems like prolapse. This is because once your pelvic organs are slipping out of their correct position, exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles can’t get the organs back to where they should be. For this reason, it’s very important to see a pelvic floor specialist or prolapse specialist to get additional treatment for your pelvic floor problems if you have any symptoms of prolapse or if you are experiencing chronic incontinence and pain.