Pilates and Pelvic Floor Therapy: An Effective Duo for Mothers

For new mothers, maintaining strength and flexibility is paramount, given the physical demands of child-rearing. From picking up a growing child to bending and stretching to reach toys, moms are continually on the move, often in ways that challenge their bodies.

To maintain wellness and prevent injury, it’s essential to have a well-rounded fitness routine that promotes strength, flexibility, and multiplanar movement. This is where pilates and pelvic floor therapy come in.

Pilates offers excellent benefits in improving core strength and flexibility, but it falls short in supporting multiplanar movements, which are crucial for mothers. Fortunately, pelvic floor therapy can fill this gap, helping mothers gain strength and flexibility in various planes of motion.

Let’s explore the synergistic relationship between Pilates and pelvic floor therapy, particularly for mothers navigating the physical demands of childcare.

What is Pilates?

Pilates is a system of low-impact exercises designed to strengthen the body’s core muscles — those in the abdomen, lower back, and pelvis. It was created by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century as a method of rehabilitation and physical strengthening.

It’s widely recognized as a comprehensive fitness approach emphasizing muscle control, flexibility, and mind-body awareness. Pilates exercises can be performed using specialized equipment or on a mat, with movements designed to engage the powerhouse—the core muscles that are the basis for all of Pilates’s movements.

Despite being low-impact, Pilates workouts can be incredibly challenging and effective, providing both strength-building and flexibility benefits. It’s a popular choice for people of all ages and fitness levels, including athletes, dancers, and individuals recovering from injury.

The Mechanics of Pilates

At its core, Pilates involves controlled movements that help build strength and endurance. It targets the body’s core — the muscles in the abdomen, lower back, and pelvis — often called the ‘powerhouse’ in Pilates. Pilates aims to improve posture, stability, and balance by working on these areas. Popular Pilates exercises include:

  1. The Hundred: This exercise focuses on abdominal endurance and breathing. It involves lying on your back, raising your legs, and pulsing your arms up and down while breathing in a controlled manner.
  2. The Roll-Up: This targets the abdominals and promotes spinal flexibility. It involves a slow, controlled movement to sit up from a lying-down position, reach your toes, and slowly roll back down.
  3. Leg Circles: This exercise is great for hip mobility and core stability. It involves lying on your back and circling one leg in the air while keeping the rest of your body still.
  4. Teaser: This advanced exercise strengthens the abdominals and improves balance and control. It involves balancing on your tailbone while your legs and torso are lifted off the ground.
  5. Swimming: This mimics the movement of swimming in water and strengthens the back and glutes. It involves lying on your stomach, raising your arms and legs off the ground, and alternately lifting your opposite arm and leg.

The Benefits of Pilates

Pilates offers many benefits that contribute to overall health and well-being. One of the most significant benefits is strengthening the body’s core, which can lead to improved posture and stability.

Pilates exercises are designed to lengthen and strengthen muscles, which can increase flexibility and joint mobility. This is particularly beneficial for preventing injuries and improving performance in other physical activities.

Moreover, Pilates promotes body awareness, helping individuals become more conscious of their posture and alignment, both during workouts and in daily activities. This heightened mindfulness can also lead to better stress management and a sense of inner tranquility.

Additionally, because Pilates is low-impact, it’s suitable for people of all fitness levels and ages, making it an excellent choice for anyone seeking to enhance their physical fitness and mental well-being.

The Limitations of Pilates: Multiplanar Movement

While Pilates has many benefits, it lacks emphasis on multiplanar movement, which involves moving and exerting force in multiple directions. Pilates exercises are typically performed in a single plane of motion, limiting their efficacy in improving multiplanar strength and mobility. But what is multiplanar movement?

Multiplanar Movement

Multiplanar movement refers to the movement that occurs in all three planes of motion: the sagittal plane (forward and backward movements), the frontal plane (side-to-side movements), and the transverse plane (rotational movements).

These planes divide the body into front and back, side and side, and top and bottom halves. In real life, our bodies rarely move in just one plane at a time. Instead, most of our daily activities, from walking and running to twisting and turning, involve some combination of movements in these three planes, hence the term “multiplanar.”

Why Mothers Need Multiplanar Movement

Mothers, especially those with young children, frequently engage in multiplanar movements. Daily tasks like picking up a child, carrying them on one hip, pushing a stroller, or bending down to pick up toys all require strength and flexibility in various planes of motion.

Training in multiplanar movements can enhance overall mobility, improve functional fitness, increase balance and stability, and reduce the risk of injury, as it better replicates the demands placed on our bodies in daily activities or sports.

Pelvic Floor Therapy to Enhance Multiplanar Movement for Mothers

Pelvic floor therapy can significantly enhance multiplanar movement for mothers, enabling them to handle the physical demands of childcare better. The exercises involved in this therapy target the pelvic floor muscles and engage other muscles in the body that are crucial for multiplanar movements.

A trained pelvic floor therapist can guide mothers through various exercises that improve strength and flexibility across all planes of motion. For instance, a squat, which is a joint exercise in pelvic floor therapy, requires movement in the sagittal plane (bending and straightening of the hips and knees) but also engages muscles that support movements in the other planes.

Moreover, lateral exercises such as side steps or lunges help improve stability and strength in the frontal plane, preparing mothers for movements such as moving a child from one hip to the other or reaching sideways to pick up toys.

Finally, pelvic floor therapy often includes rotational exercises, which can enhance mobility in the transverse plane. This can assist mothers in daily tasks like turning to monitor a toddler while carrying a baby or twisting to reach for a diaper bag.

By strengthening muscles and enhancing control over these movements, pelvic floor therapy can make daily caregiving tasks less taxing on the body, reducing the risk of injury and promoting better overall physical function. Furthermore, a stronger pelvic floor can also help address postpartum issues like incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse, adding to the many benefits of this therapy for new mothers.

Key Takeaways

While Pilates offers numerous benefits, including improved core strength and flexibility, it falls short in preparing the body for multiplanar movement, a necessity for mothers in their daily activities.

Integrating pelvic floor therapy can provide mothers with the additional strength and mobility needed to navigate the physical demands of childcare safely and efficiently.

For more information on pelvic floor therapy and other related topics, contact me today!