Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Therapeutic Pilates

Today I thought I should write a little information regarding the therapeutic benefits of the Pilates method. There are many ways in which Pilates can be therapeutic for things like post op, chronic pain, post injury, post-pregnancy to name a few.
I'd like to focus on Women's health specific to pelvic conditions. I'm sure many of you have heard your doctor or a friend talk about "kegel's." A kegel exercise consists of contracting and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles. In Pilates we focus a lot on the connection to the pelvic floor as the pelvis is not only the keystone to the distribution of our body's weight, but helps us stay upright as well as strengthen our powerhouse/abs. Engaging our pelvic floor helps us better connect to the strength of our most internal abdominal muscle, the transverses (they do quite well when they can work together).
As we age, incontinence becomes a more familiar word. Having babies also weaken organs and muscles in our trunk. Geez, I've been there. I managed to give all natural birth to an 8 pound baby and I have a small frame at 5'5". Hen is two and I am just starting to feel really internally strong again. Not flimsy or unconnected like I was post birth.
It is best that we start to really learn how to exercise our pelvic floor and abdominal's (key word here is internally, a 6 pack is nice but that's not what I'm getting at) so we can help prohibit these issues down the road. I'd like to share a basic kegel exercise with you (and no it isn't the kegel exercise your doctor told you about: stopping your stream while on the toilet. I wouldn't recommend doing that).
So here goes:
Sitting on a upright chair (no comfy soft armchairs,ok) or on an exercise ball (when sitting on the ball make sure that the bend of your knees is about 90 degrees or wider. Plus you don't want your hips lower than your knees).
While seated, place a small ball or pillow in between your knees. Place your hands on thighs. Inhale, free breath (no movement). Exhale gently squeeze the ball (or pillow) with your inner legs (not your outer legs or gluts). As you squeeze make sure you engage your pelvic floor. To do this, sorry if this is too graphic for you but it works, is to imagine you are holding a tampon up inside you. Inhale you want to completely relax the pelvic floor and your legs. Start again as you exhale, you gently squeeze ball/pillow with inner legs, kegel and third part is to pull your tummy in.Do this about 6 times. Please don't hesitate to comment if you have further questions about this exercise.
Have FUN!


Julie Poplawski said...

Nice queing! I teach pilates and pelvic floor isn't easy to address. Thanks for posting!! my core work outs are pilates based: I usually say pull your soft parts up and in. I think many people miss the true pelvic floor in that.

Thanks again,

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