Since the passing of Title IX in 1972, which protects people from sex discrimination in education or activity programs receiving federal funding, the number of females participating in sports has greatly increased. The National Federation of State High School Associations states that in 2011 nearly 3.2 million girls are participating in high school sports.
Unfortunately, a consequence of this increased participation in sports is a higher prevalence in urinary incontinence (UI) and stress urinary incontinence (SUI) in female athletes.
Pilates is often used in pelvic floor muscle rehabilitation and can easily be modified for low level rehabilitation and also for the higher level athletic population.
The use of arc barrels, BOSUs or the Hooked on Pilates MINIMAX (as pictured) allow the athletic client to achieve an inverted position, unloading the pelvic floor muscles. In the inverted position, pelvic floor muscles are activated via the kegel exercise (feeling as if you must stop urination) as extrinsic synergists of the pelvic floor muscles are also activated.
Extrinsic synergists of the pelvic floor are the abdominals, back muscles, gluteal muscles and inner thigh muscles.
In the exercise depicted, the inverted, prone position is achieved to perform an effective kegel exercise (activating the pelvic floor) where gravity is assisting the pelvic floor contraction, at the same time the heels of the bent legs squeeze together activating the gluteal and hip lateral rotators (extrinsic synergists of the pelvic floor). Hold the contraction of the kegel exercise and heel squeeze position for 5-10 seconds and do 5-15 repetitions.