Today's post is written by faculty member Martina Hauptmann, who instructs the Pilates for Pelvic Dysfunction, Osteoporosis, and Peripartum course. Come learn how to apply Pilates in your practice this September 19-20 in Chicago, IL!
Treating the incompetent pelvic floor (urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse) is a staple of therapists who have specialized in this complex area.
Ever since Dr. Arnold Kegel published his research “A Non-surgical Method of Increasing the Tone of the Sphincters and Their Supporting Structures” back in 1942 women have been strengthening their pelvic floor by conscious contraction of their perineum by either squeezing or lifting.
Another method to strengthen the pelvic floor is through the muscles that are extrinsic synergists to the pelvic floor musculature. The hip abductors, adductors, extensors and lateral rotators are extrinsically linked to the pelvic floor musculature. Except for one of the hip lateral rotators, the obturator internus, which by its anatomical attachments is actually an intrinsic synergist of the pelvic floor.
Pilates is an exercise method that seeks to increase a client’s strength, posture, control, and body awareness through precise exercises. The Heel Squeeze exercise is an excellent exercise to indirectly strengthen the pelvic floor via isometric contraction of the hip lateral rotators and hip extensors.
To perform the Heel Squeeze exercise, have the client lie prone with their legs hip distance apart, knees bent. The heels are touching and the toes pointing away from center. Draw the client’s awareness to their abdominals and have them slightly lift their stomach away from the mat. Instruct the client that she should continue with this contraction of her abdominals. Then as she exhales, the client squeezes her heels together and presses her pubic bone down into the mat. The client should hold this contraction for 5 seconds and do 8-12 repetitions.