The Pelvic Floor Exercise
“Anchor the hips,” “Lengthen the spine,” “Contract your pelvic floor and abs,” “Lift the pelvic floor.” Do these cues sound familiar? Of course they do. As IM=X Pilates trainers, we focus on these verbal cues to develop muscle stretch and build postural awareness during an IM=X session. Recently, there’s been some controversy over cueing the pelvic floor. It has been stated that this specific cueing is detrimental and results in a posterior pelvic tilt and poor low back alignment. Considering that working with an elongated neutral spine is a hallmark of IM=X, it would be fair to say reading this information might make any teacher avoid the pelvic floor cue. Will cueing to contract the pelvic floor create a distraction for maintaining neutral spine alignment? Not at all.
As IM=X instructors, we learn that the IM=X Five Fundamentals are a systematic approach to establishing proper spinal alignment, teaching clients to use their forced exhalation and develop stabilization techniques. We know that by cueing our clients to place their hands on their hips prior to performing pelvic stabilization and throughout the class we can encourage the neutral spine position and bring awareness to the proper pelvic placement. We know to teach the client that the transversus abdominis and pelvic floor contract isometrically to stabilize the pelvis and low back in any movement. We also know how to cue the inhibition of the gluteal muscles which will tilt the spine and we know how to spot it when it does. This is done by paying attention to not only the position of the spine (on the Xercizer or the Floor, at the Wall Tower, etc..) but also to the shape of the ring when used in the Pelvic Stabilization Fundamental. Our training has taught us that the pelvic floor muscle is NOT a prime mover and that regular verbal cueing of it is necessary during an IM=X workout. Therefore, we can assume that if the pelvis tilts during this cue, there is another culprit and more focus needs to be placed on Pelvic Stabilization.
We know that cueing the pelvic floor contraction will not automatically result in a posterior pelvic tilt because our unique IM=X training has prepared us to understand how muscle synergies work and offer postural cues for inhibition training. This allows us to give our clients all the tools they need to enjoy a safe, fun and challenging IM=X workout.