Marietta Mehanni

Core fitness

Why all the fuss about the pelvic floor?

When contemplating our ‘core,’ the initial association typically involves muscles in the torso. However, what often goes unnoticed or misunderstood is the pivotal role the pelvic floor plays in effectively controlling the core and supporting crucial bodily functions.

Primarily, fortifying the pelvic floor can aid in preventing incontinence and addressing concerns related to bladder and/or bowel control. This is of significant importance, given the prevalence of these issues, affecting a substantial portion of the population. Women, especially those who have experienced childbirth, face an increased risk, with a large number reporting some level of incontinence.

Of particular concern is the realisation that many women become aware of or experience increased incontinence during physical activities, whether with a personal trainer or in group fitness settings like boot camps.

Incontinence can be significantly reduced by strengthening the pelvic floor. Additionally, a functioning, healthy pelvic floor supports the deep abdominal muscles and lower back, alleviating lower back pain, improving posture, and enhancing sexual sensation.

Understanding the Pelvic Floor

The pelvic floor comprises a set of muscles supporting and maintaining the positioning of the bladder, uterus, and bowel organs. Serving as the literal floor to the core, it closes the skeletal gap from the pelvic bone to the tailbone, forming the foundational support for internal organs. Neurologically linked to the transverse abdominis (TVA), activating the pelvic floor first initiates action in the TVA and aids in supporting and stabilising the lower back during daily tasks and exercise.

Caring for Your Pelvis

Barbell Workouts:

Engaging in resistance workouts with barbells is an effective method for developing muscle strength and endurance while maintaining bone mass. For those with pelvic floor concerns or at risk, here are the top three modifications for barbell workouts:

  1. Squats, deep squats, and lunges: Narrow your stance and avoid going too low to reduce pressure on the pelvic floor. Also, decrease the barbell weight to alleviate additional pressure.
  2. Breath control: Focus on breathing out when lifting weights and inhaling during the lowering phase to avoid breath-holding, especially with heavy weights.
  3. Overhead exercises: Reduce weight or opt for dumbbells instead of a barbell for exercises performed above the head to minimise pressure on the pelvic floor.

Mastering the Plank:

The plank or ab hover, designed to strengthen the core, offers an opportunity to prioritise pelvic floor engagement:

  1. Lift the pelvic floor while maintaining thigh contact with the floor for up to 10 seconds. Rest, and progress to lifting onto the knees if confident.
  2. Note: A full plank on the toes is not recommended for those with pelvic floor concerns.

Mindful Modifications for Dynamic Exercises

Dynamic exercises like jumping lunges and power jumps are not suitable for those with a weak pelvic floor. Opt for traditional stationary versions instead.

Your Body, Your Workout

Modifying a workout can feel daunting, but it’s a responsible choice for your health. Remember, it’s your body and workout. Pelvic floor health needs to be a priority.


Check out the 8-Part Pelvic Floor Seminar Series – ENROL FOR FREE

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