Pelvic Floor Pilates combines medical research with exercise to help women realize that “pelvic floor health is a fitness issue.’
MOST WOMEN THINK they know how to do Kegel exercises correctly, but effective activation of the pelvic floor involves more than just squeezing these often difficult-to-find muscles. Now there is a program that can help women gain a better understanding of these muscles and how they work. PFilates or Pelvic Floor Pilates combines medical research with exercise to help women realize that “pelvic floor health is a fitness issue.”
The scientifically researched exercises taught in PFilates were developed by Dr. Bruce Crawford, a urogynecologist from Reno, Nevada, using EMG recordings to determine which exercises were the most effective in recruiting the pelvic floor, transversus abdominis, adductor group and gluteals. These muscles all work together to provide support to the pelvic organs and restore pelvic health.
The pelvic floor is a set of muscles that spreads across the bottom of the pelvic cavity like a hammock. The functions of the pelvic floor include:
- Support for the pelvic organs, specifically the uterus, the bladder and the rectum
- Provide sphincter control for the bladder and bowel
- Withstand increases in pressure that occur in the abdomen, such as coughing, sneezing, laughing, straining, and lifting
- Provide posture and stabilization of the spine and pelvis
What causes pelvic floor disorder?
As we age our pelvic floor muscles may begin to sag and weaken. Many conditions can stress the pelvic floor, including:
- Pregnancy-related changes in the body
- Heavy straining during childbirth
- Damage to the pelvic floor sustained during childbirth
- Repeated straining during bowel movements or with chronic coughing
- Repetitive heavy lifting
- Weakening of pelvic floor muscles (atrophy) due to hormonal changes
Weak pelvic floor muscles can result in pelvic organ prolapse (POP). Prolapse can occur in your bladder, urethra, uterus, rectum, intestines, and vagina. Other symptoms of a weak pelvic floor include involuntary leaking of urine or fecal matter. Factors for developing POP include pregnancy, aging, deconditioning,
obesity, chronic constipation, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), and eating disorders. Pelvic floor weakness can also result in overactive bladder (OAB) which is defined as urgency, with or without incontinence, usually associated with frequency and nighttime voiding.
The PFilates program consists of ten movements that incorporate the pelvic floor and the muscles that function with it. Each PFilates movement includes a series of repetitions followed by a hold phase and a pulse phase at the point of peak engagement of the pelvic floor. These movements encourage the development of the three essential elements of neuromuscular performance: strength, endurance, and coordination.
PFilates is intended to be preventative but is also a therapeutic alternative for those already experiencing symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction. For patients that have already had surgery, PFilates can help protect and reduce the chance of recurrent symptoms.