The pelvic floor’s role in core stability
The Pelvic floor is crucial for many reasons, many mothers will be told to do their pelvic floor exercises after giving birth. Some mothers will also be recommended to do some Pilates to help strengthen their core.
There are a large group of females out there who have suffered back pain during and after their pregnancy, the pelvic floor muscles are one contributing factor as to why this can happen. The pelvic floor is not just important for females after giving birth, it is important for everyone to work on, especially if you have had recurrent episodes of back pain. Below is a picture of the muscles of the pelvic floor (in a female).
To engage your pelvic floor, all you have to do is engage the muscles that ‘stop yourself peeing’. If this is a problem then i would recommend seeing a specialist to help train these muscles. To ensure these muscles stay on, you must keep them engaged while challenging you body in different positions. You are not looking to stop yourself peeing forever, you are looking for these muscles to be more turned on so that they will be recruited by your body when the lower back and pelvis are in a challenging position.
To ensure this happens, keeping you pelvic floor engaged during gentle movement based activities such as Pilates or Yoga is perfect. You will have to engage the pelvic floor muscles consciously to begin with, though after a few weeks of challenging them, it will become a subconscious activity which you will experience as having the muscles become ‘easier to engage’.
To get complete lower back stabilisation you should have your lower abs engaged to activate your core muscles, keep your pelvis in a ‘neutral’ position and breathe correctly using your diaphragm. As a result of this, you should start to experience a lot better results from your Pilates/Yoga. You’ll find, this will benefit your body when playing more vigorous sports, as the foundation of your back (Known as The Thoraco-Pelvic Canister) is stronger.
Last point, please make sure you are performing Pilates/Yoga at a level that is suited to you. As these principles will not work if you are performing them at too higher level of exercises, technique and patience is key. If you have ever played golf you’ll know what I mean, e.g. in golf, if your hands, feet, head, hips etc are all not in the right position before you swing to hit that tiny ball, the shot will be terrible.
When improving your back’s core strength, unless you have all the right muscles engaged correctly, there is no point in even trying to move – as the object of the exercises is lost. Your instructor or practitioner should be able to help check if you are engaging your key lower back muscles correctly.
Remember, even the best, strongest athletes can still get a weak back. Everyone should aim to keep a strong Thoraco-Pelvic Canister using the advice above.