The pelvic floor is a topic that we like to associate with the female sex, and that we often don’t confront ourselves with at a young age. It is a structure that plays a very important role not only for the health of women but also for men. In this blog, we would like to bring this subject a little closer to everyone – regardless of gender or age. We are talking about the importance of strong pelvic muscles and the connection with back problems and interviewed Giulia Consoli, professional dancer and Pilates instructor, about our center of strength.
The most important thing about our pelvic floor
The pelvic floor is the centre of our stability. It consists of three layers of muscles that form the bottom of our pelvis and seal off our torso at its base. The pelvic floor is connected to the organs of the abdomen by fascia, ligaments and connective tissue. Some of our organic functions would not be possible without the complex interaction of the pelvic floor muscles. For example, defecation, urination or holding urine while coughing.
The pelvic floor is the origin of every physical effort in our body. It enables us to maintain an upright posture and carry heavy loads, such as an unborn child or lifting a heavy piece of furniture.
Not only a female matter – chronic back pain
The pelvic floor connects the muscles of the torso, abdomen and hips. Together with other structures, it lines the inside of the pelvis. Our sacroiliac joints lie in the area of the sacrum. These are tightly articulated structures that are influenced by tension in our thigh-, torso- and pelvic floor muscles. In certain cases, long-term instability of the pelvic floor muscles can lead to chronic back pain.
“As stable as possible, as flexible as necessary”
With all eagerness to acquire a strong pelvic floor, the controlled release of these muscles should not be forgotten. This prevents cramp-like complaints in the lower abdomen and allows us a better sensitivity in our sexuality. Especially during childbirth it is important to maintain a flexible pelvic floor, this can be positively influenced through breathing exercises, yoga and lots of movement.
With Pilates to inner stability and strength – Interview with Giulia Consoli, professional dancer and Pilates instructor
Hi Giulia, why did you become a Pilates instructor?
“I decided to teach Pilates after practicing this technique myself for many years. Pilates was part of my professional dance training. I became aware of the positive effect it has on posture. Not only to strengthen, but also to balance the complaints that can develop through the asymmetrical work with the body. My conclusion was that if I could help myself, I can help others too.”
What is Pilates and which people does it target?
“Pilates is postural gymnastics, designed to re-balance the body, both physicaly and mentally. It is aimed at a wide audience:
– to people who simply want the benefits of a postural workout
– patients in rehabilitation
– to women before, during or after pregnancy
– for the elderly
The technique is based on seven traditional principles: concentration, control, breathing, centralization, precision, mobility and isolation.
As well as five posture principles: position of the pelvis, spine, chest, shoulder girdle and head.”
What are core muscles?
“Core muscles” are the inner muscles of the torso and are divided into superficial and deep muscles. The deeper muscles allow stability between the sacrum and pelvis and work together with the small stabilizing muscles of the spine. “The superficial core muscles include the straight and oblique abdominal muscles.”
What complaints can indicate a weakness in the pelvic floor and core muscles?
“These symptoms manifest themselves in a minor loss of urine when coughing, laughing or when immersed in water. In addition, it can be difficult to interrupt the flow of urine during a visit to the toilet. It can also cause a feeling of heaviness and discomfort in the perineal area and pain during intercourse.”
Typical complaints that can be caused by weak core muscles:
– bad posture
– back pains
– general weakness in arms and legs
– poor balance
Can you describe a normal Pilates class?
“Be prepared for a course that focuses on learning and respecting the principles of the method. The exercises are precisely instructed and supervised. Muscles which are often neglected are challenged in new ways. The exercises are demonstrated together with the coordination of the breath and adapted if needed. The lesson always ends with a re-stabilization of diaphragmatic breathing.”
At what age would you recommend Pilates?
“You can start Pilates at any age. To use this technique correctly, it requires concentration. When you are ready to listen to your body for 60 minutes, you can start with Pilates.”
What about pregnant women or mothers?
“Pilates during pregnancy is highly recommended, but the exercise must be moderate and above all individually adapted. My advice under these circumstances is to take private lessons, the type of exercise varies depending on the trimester. As far as the physical condition after birth is normal, one can slowly start to participate in the group classes again. In the case of a rectus diastasis a targeted and precise individual class is required.”
How important is breathing during Pilates and how is it performed?
“The breathing technique is the key to the effectiveness of Pilates. It is called ‘lateral thoracic breathing’, also known as ‘intercostal breathing’ or ‘lateral breathing’. It emphasizes the lateral expansion of the rib cage while maintaining abdominal contraction between the navel and spine during various phases of the Pilates exercise.”
If we have sparked your interest for a new training, you can see all the important information about classes and individual lessons on www.giuliaconsoli.com. For simple home exercises, check out our Facebook page. Giulia Consoli has put together some exercise videos exclusively for us which we will release during the next few weeks. Enjoy your training!