BEECH: Core & Pelvic Floor
Ellie takes you through a quick strength-based exercise routine for Core & Pelvic Floor. Activating your deep core and your pelvic floor muscles with Ellie from the comfort of your living room!
Hi, BEECH Community it’s Ellie, your exercise physiologist and Pilates, instructor.
In pilates one of the main principles is centering, so we like to start with our core and pelvic floor muscles together, and then work our way out from there.
Today’s focus is all about how to activate our deep core and our pelvic floor muscles so we can really use them to do our exercises.
Quick anatomy review on our core muscles
We have lots of different layers that go nice and deep towards our spine,
- it starts with the outer layer,
- the six-pack abs called our rectus abdominis,
- and then deeper to that, we start to get into our obliques.
- After that, we have our transversus abdominis, and that is the muscle that we’re really going to try and focus on today.
Now, the pelvic floor muscles line the bowl that is our pelvis all right, so they create this muscular bowl that works to hold up all our organs, and control our ability to go to the toilet.
All you’re going to need is a little bit of space on the floor, maybe a mat if you like, especially if you have hardwood floors and just something comfortable to wear.
We are going to lie all the way down starting on your back with your feet hip width apart and your knees bent. I want you to use your two fingertips to find the bony parts of your hips, so we’re looking for those hip bones, from there we’re just going to press on the inside of those hip bones into the fleshy part.
I just want you to try and do that for me now so, we’re looking for those hip bones, and then you’re just going about a centimeter or two inwards, and pressing down quite deep, and it should feel a bit squishy if you’re relaxed.
From here, I want you to have the feeling that you’re trying to draw those hip bones together across your pelvis, and then flatten that line down into your stomach.
All right, so give that a go just to visualize what we’re doing here, you can almost probably see it on my tights here. I’ve got a line drawn from one hip bone across to the other hippo.
I really want to try and focus on pulling my hip bones together across my pelvis, so really connecting that line in. It’s almost as if you’re wearing a really deep corset around your stomach you’re wrapping all those muscles around, and then sucking in as well.
Another way to think about it is if you’ve just stepped into a super tight pair of jeans maybe one that’s two sizes too small, and you zip up the zipper and, then we really try to pull the button across to the buttonhole to do it up, you have that feeling of sucking in and then activating your core that way.
What you’re looking for with your fingertips is a bit of tension, you can feel a little bit of tension. I want you to then try and lower one knee out to the side as far as you can, without rolling your hips to the side. Exhale, pull that leg back up to center, then we’re going to try the other side.
Inhale to lower the leg, exhale, hip bones together pulling your knee to center and repeat. We’re just lowering side to side. I’m going to face this way so you can see we’re lowering out to the side, and then pulling it back in.
What we don’t want to see is lowering your knee and, then rolling with that leg, back up to center. Try a couple more of those for me if you can really make sure you can feel the tension underneath your fingertips.
We’re going to try the Pelvic floor next.
This time stay lying on your back. I want you to think of not so much this horizontal line, but the vertical line here, so this feeling of lifting from your pubic bone up towards your belly button on the inside.
You can think of it as though you’re trying to stop yourself from going to the toilet, or holding in some wind as well, in the front and the back passage, and you’re lifting up and sucking in like that just kind of holding and then, relax.
- Lifting up and holding and then,relax.
- You can do it lying down on your back in the same position,
- try not to let your quads engage,
- try not to let your glutes engage.
- We want all of our other muscles relaxed.
- You shouldn’t see your stomach squeeze really hard from the outside world.
- We shouldn’t really see anything happening, you should just feel a little bit of a lift and relaxation.
It’s really tough to get if you haven’t felt it before, so don’t worry if you can’t get it so we’re just having that feeling of gliding up, and then relaxing.
Another way you can think of it, imagine your pelvic floor is like an elevator, or lift. When you relax completely and push down, you’re letting that elevator go down to the basement level, and then as you start to activate your pelvic floor., and lift, you bring it up to just ground level, and then if you can go a little bit further up to level one and two you’re actually getting that further lift of the pelvic floor that feeling of drawing up.
It’s all a lot of visual imagery with stuff, so we’re going to try and put it all together. Now, I want you to focus on lifting that elevator up first, so lifting the pelvic floor up, then we’re drawing our hip bones together like wrapping that corset around, and now we’re going to lower the knee out to one side, and bring it back up off to the other side, and bring it back up.
Next up, we’re going to try and activate our core in a different position.
This might work for some, so we’re going to come into a four-point kneel, so hands and knees. Hands directly under your shoulders, knees underneath your hips, and this time you’re gonna work against gravity, so I want you to feel like you’re pulling your belly button up in towards your lower back trying to lift your lower abs away from your shirt without rounding into your spine.
We’re keeping a nice flat back lifting that belly button in, and then relaxing. Let’s use our breath out to lift, inhale to relax.
- We’re gonna test our core activation.
- I want to see if you can extend one leg behind you, without shifting your body or twisting your spine, and then bring it back in.
- The leg doesn’t have to go up too high, we can just extend it out along the floor, and then lift it, as long as we don’t lift it and arch into the back, and bring it back.
You should feel your core engage as you extend your leg, inhale to return. If you want to try a little bit harder let’s see if we can take our opposite arm and leg out (you can try on the other side).
That’s all for today, my tip to you is to just keep practicing, keep visualizing, use those imagery cues
It really does help after a while. Keep working at it and it does come with practice.