The pelvic floor is one of the most important, but often overlooked, group of muscles in the human body. Sometimes called the pelvic diaphragm, it contracts and releases in relationship to the diaphragm when the core is working normally. The pelvic floor holds the contents of the abdomen up against the gravity, to control what comes out and when. In women these muscles are essential for childbirth, and in both men and women, a healthy pelvic floor facilitates better sexual function. It also supports overall stability and athletic performance.
One in three women have some form of pelvic floor dysfunction — such as incontinence, pelvic pain or pelvic organ prolapse — and the origins of these conditions are often associated with pregnancy. In men, pelvic floor weakness can lead to hernia or chronic problems with the hip joints.
Researchers have found that Pilates training is as effective at strengthening the pelvic floor as pelvic-floor muscle training (PFMT), a regimen designed by medical professionals to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles in cases of dysfunction. As opposed to PFMT, Pilates offers both the benefits of improved pelvic floor muscle strength as well as a host of other benefits, including: better overall strength, improved posture, increased flexibility, and a higher level of confidence.
This research confirms what many practitioners of Pilates have already discovered — this powerful training method has benefits that support function and performance in multiple systems of the human body, all through simple movements that are safe and efficient.