As a pilates teacher, you are aware that having a strong and healthy pelvic floor is crucial for both men and women. However, you may not realise that flat feet, or fallen arches, can have a direct impact on pelvic floor tone.
The arches of the feet provide a neuro feedback mechanism to the pelvic floor muscles, which helps to ensure proper tone and function. When the arches of the feet are weakened or collapsed, this feedback mechanism becomes compromised, leading to poor pelvic floor tone.
So how can you, as a movement practitioner or educator, determine if your clients may have weak pelvic floor muscles related to their flat feet? Start by observing their feet during movement. Do they appear to have flat or collapsed arches? Do they tend to roll inwards or outwards during weight-bearing exercises?
You can also perform simple tests, such as having clients stand on one foot and observe if their arch collapses or if they have difficulty maintaining proper alignment. Another test is to have the client lift and spread their toes while standing, which helps to activate the small intrinsic muscles of the feet that support the arches.
If you notice weaknesses or imbalances in your clients’ foot posture or mechanics, it’s important to address these issues through targeted exercises and interventions. This may include foot strengthening exercises, such as foot work, feet in straps and standing exercises and cueing clients to maintain proper foot alignment during exercise.
When performing standing exercises it can help give your clients body feedback by placing a small rolled up tea towel under the arch for support. Ask your client if it helps them feel their adductors and pelvic floor activate and always work with them to find solutions.
By taking a holistic approach to assessing your clients’ feet and pelvic floor health, you can help to improve their overall wellness and performance. As a pilates teacher, you have the power to educate and empower your clients to take control of their health and well-being. So don’t overlook the important link between flat feet and pelvic floor tone – it’s time to start paying attention to the feet!
Why arches fall if someone has a high impact spinal injury
Arches of the feet can fall if someone has a high impact spinal injury due to the disruption in nerve impulses that travel from the spine and brain to the muscles of the feet. When these nerve signals are interrupted, it can cause weakness or paralysis in certain muscles, including those that support the arches. This can result in weakened or collapsed arches and a subsequent decrease in the support and stability of the feet. In addition, weakened core muscles can also contribute to collapsed arches as they are unable to adequately support the weight of the body when standing or walking. Finally, limited range of motion in the joints due to injury can cause an inability to keep the arches properly engaged when standing.
Women are more likely to have fallen arches and poor pelvic floor tone
Women who have had multiple vaginal childbirths are more likely to have fallen arches and poor pelvic floor tone for several reasons. First, the muscles of the pelvic floor can be weakened by the repetitive contractions necessary for labor and delivery. This can lead to decreased muscle tension in the pelvic floor, which can affect its ability to properly support the organs and hold up against outside pressure. Second, due to the stretching that occurs during labor, many women experience laxity in their pelvic ligaments, resulting in reduced stability of the pelvis. Finally, because pregnancy puts additional stress on weight-bearing joints like those in the feet, repeated pregnancies can cause wear and tear on these structures over time that results in weakened and collapsed arches. All of these factors can contribute to a decrease in pelvic floor tone, which can lead to further health issues.
Importance of dynamic tone, endurance tone and light, medium and deep toning
Pilates exercises are a great way to help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and promote dynamic, endurance and deep toning. Some examples of pilates-based exercises that can be used to strengthen the pelvic floor include:
• Pelvic Tilts: Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Tilt your pelvis forward until you feel a gentle pull in the lower abdominals, then hold for 3-5 seconds and release. Repeat 10 times. Pelvic tilts are a great exercise for pelvic floor toning because they help to engage and activate the deep core muscles, including the pelvic floor. By tilting the pelvis forward, we create a gentle hollow in the lower abdominals and activate the pelvic floor muscles. Additionally, holding the tilt for a few seconds before releasing helps to build endurance in these muscles, which is important for maintaining proper tone and function. By performing pelvic tilts regularly, we can help to improve pelvic floor strength and prevent issues like incontinence and prolapse.
• Bridge: Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Press into your heels to lift your hips off of the ground, hold for 3-5 seconds and release. Repeat 10 times. Explain why bridges are good for pelvic floor toning.
• Squats: Start in a standing position with feet hip-width apart and toes pointing forward. Bend your knees as if you’re sitting in a chair, keeping your chest up tall and engaging your abdominals. Hold for 3-5 seconds then stand back up, repeat 10 times. Explain why squats are good for pelvic floor toning.
• Bridge Pose: Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Lift up your hips as high as possible, then lower them down to the mat and repeat 10 times. Explain why this is a good exercise for pelvic floor toning. Bridge Pose is an excellent exercise for strengthening the pelvic floor because it requires both core and pelvic floor engagement in order to lift the hips up off the ground. Additionally, by holding the bridge pose at the top of each repetition, you are working on maintaining dynamic tone within your pelvic floor muscles while also increasing muscular endurance over time.
Finally, by doing multiple repetitions of these exercise you can work on light, medium and deep toning all in one workout!
Start in supine
Exercises where you lie down can be incredibly effective when it comes to toning your pelvic floor muscles. One of the main reasons for this is that when you are lying down, you eliminate the effects of gravity. This means that you can be tter isolate and engage your pelvic floor muscles without the added pressure of supporting your body weight.
Moreover, by lying down, you allow your body to relax fully, which can aid in achieving deeper and more effective contractions in the pelvic floor muscles. This is especially important for individuals who struggle with tense or overactive pelvic floor muscles, as the relaxation component of these exercises can help to release tension and promote proper function.
Lying down exercises also provide a stable and supported position from which to work, which is especially beneficial for individuals who have difficulty maintaining proper alignment or who experience pain or discomfort during dynamic movements. With proper cueing and guidance, these exercises can be modified and progressed in difficulty, making them suitable for all levels of fitness and ability.
Exercises that are performed while lying down can be highly effective for toning the pelvic floor due to their ability to isolate and engage the muscles without the interference of gravity, the relaxation component that helps with releasing tension, the stable and supported position, and adaptability to fit different levels of fitness and ability. As a pilates teacher, it is important to incorporate a wide variety of exercises to target pelvic floor health and support overall wellness.
In addition to these exercises, it is important for pilates instructors to ensure that their clients are working within their prescribed abilities when using abdominal bracing techniques. Working within the appropriate range of motion will help promote dynamic tone, which will help maintain pelvic floor strength and stability. Additionally, incorporating endurance-based exercises such as those above into a client’s regular routine can help improve overall muscle tone and endurance while also increasing the depth of muscular engagement during exercise. Finally, light, medium and deep ton
Progress to standing
Standing up exercises are crucial for toning the pelvic floor as they allow us to work against gravity and challenge our balance and stability. When we are standing, our body weight places additional pressure on the pelvic floor muscles and can make them work harder to maintain proper function and support. By incorporating exercises like squats, lunges, and standing leg lifts into our movement routine, we can help to activate and strengthen the pelvic floor muscles while also engaging the larger muscle groups in the lower body.
Standing exercises offer a functional approach to pelvic floor health as they mimic everyday movements and activities. By training our pelvic floor muscles to work effectively in a standing position, we can better support our body during daily tasks such as carrying groceries, lifting kids, or even just standing in line.
Furthermore, standing exercises can also promote dynamic tone by challenging our muscles to work in a variety of positions and ranges of motion. This can improve overall muscle endurance and performance, which is essential for maintaining good pelvic floor health.
It is important to note that not all standing exercises are suitable for individuals with pelvic floor dysfunction or weakness. As a pilates teacher, it is essential to assess each client’s individual needs and abilities in order to provide modifications and progressions that will support their pelvic floor health while avoiding any potential aggravations.
Standing up exercises are a critical component of any comprehensive pelvic floor health program. By challenging our muscles to work against gravity and in functional positions, we can improve muscle strength, endurance, and dynamic tone, ultimately promoting better pelvic floor health and overall wellness.
• Squats: Start in a standing position with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart. Lower down into a squat position, hold for 3 seconds, and rise back up again. Repeat 10 times. Explain why squats are good for pelvic floor toning.
Squats are a great exercise for improving pelvic floor strength and endurance because they require the engagement of multiple muscle groups throughout the body, including the glutes, quads, core, and pelvic floor muscles. As we lower down into a squat position, these muscle groups must work together to support our body weight while also maintaining proper alignment and balance. Additionally, by holding a squat for 3 seconds before rising back up again, we can help improve muscular endurance in all areas of our body, which is important for developing dynamic tone in the pelvic floor muscles over time. Finally, by performing several sets of squats on a regular basis, you can help to promote overall strength and stability in your
Dynamic not static
Dynamic toning helps to increase blood flow to the pelvic floor muscles, which can help to improve flexibility and promote better control during physical activities like running or jumping. Endurance toning involves performing repetitive exercises that can help build strength and endurance over time. Finally, deep toning exercises involve contracting the deeper layers of the pelvic floor muscles
As pilates teachers, it is vital that we take a whole-body approach when assessing and addressing pelvic floor health. It’s not just about looking at whether a client has weak pelvic floor muscles or fallen arches – it’s about understanding how these issues are often linked to other postural habits and imbalances in the body.
Research has shown that pelvic floor weakness is often associated with poor posture, habitual muscle tension, and breathing pattern disorders. It’s not just a matter of doing a few pelvic floor exercises – we need to address the root causes of these issues to truly make a difference in our clients’ health and wellbeing.
This is where pilates really shines. Pilates is a holistic form of movement that works with the entire body as a system. By focusing on proper alignment, breathing, and muscle engagement, we can help clients improve their overall posture and muscle function, which can have a significant impact on pelvic floor health.
In pilates, we work to strengthen the deep core muscles that support the spine and pelvis, including the pelvic floor muscles. We do this through a variety of exercises that target the entire body, from the feet to the shoulders. By working with the whole body as a system, we can improve overall muscle tone and function, which can help to alleviate pelvic floor weakness and other issues related to poor posture and muscle imbalances.
One of the unique aspects of pilates is its emphasis on the mind-body connection. We encourage clients to be aware of their movements and engage their muscles with intention and control. This focus on mindfulness and awareness can help clients develop a deeper understanding of their bodies and how they move, which can help to prevent injuries and improve overall physical function.
So, when it comes to pelvic floor health, don’t just focus on the muscles themselves. Look at the whole body and how it’s functioning as a system. And, if you’re a pilates teacher, continue to educate yourself on how to work with the entire body in your practice. With a holistic approach that addresses posture, breathing, and movement patterns, pilates can be a powerful tool for strengthening the pelvic floor and promoting overall wellness.
Where to from here?
If you need help with any of these exercises and interventions, or would like more information about how to assess and improve your clients’ foot posture and mechanics you can enjoy my pelvic floor workshops that take an in depth dive into the function of pelvic floor, common dysfunctions we see in studio and strategies we can use to help clients performer their best. Email me with the words PELVIC POWER and I will send you an invite to the workshop as soon as it is released. email@example.com