I have to admit that I used to associate pelvic floor exercises with "women's issues," such as incontinence (issues with controlling the bladder). And I do not think it was just me. If you search on Google for "what is the pelvic floor?" you will get various results about women's incontinence (though men can have incontinence as well) and many websites do not even mention men in regard to the pelvic floor. For example,
"A woman's pelvic floor muscles support her bladder, womb (uterus) and bowel (colon). The floor of the pelvis is made up of layers of muscle and other tissues. These layers stretch like a hammock from the tailbone at the back, to the pubic bone in front." From incontinence.com
While it should be obvious that men do not have a uterus, we DO have a pelvic floor with its intricate web of muscles and nerves. And for both men and women, improving one's ability to both RELAX and tighten the pelvic floor can have wide-ranging positive effects, including:
- deeper and more relaxed breathing.
- improved balance and easier walking
- better sex through increased sensation and better control
- increased control of and the elimination of incontinence and more effective bladder control (for women and yes, for men.)
So, how do you improve the functioning of the pelvic floor?
The first thing that comes to mind for most people is kegel exercises. And the most common instruction that you will see on finding and working with Kegels and the pelvic floor usually goes something like this:
You can feel your pelvic floor muscles if you try to stop the flow of urine when you go to the toilet. To strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, sit comfortably and squeeze the muscles 10-15 times in a row. From The NHS
While that is a nice idea, in theory, many people (myself included) have a very hard time finding pelvic floor muscles by squeezing during urination.
And simply trying to "strengthen" pelvic floor muscles is not always a good idea. Why? Because many people already have pelvic floor muscles that are habitually tight.
Enter Feldenkrais-based Pelvic Floor Sessions
One of the reasons that Feldenkrais-based sessions are useful for pelvic floor health is that they can both relax compulsive muscular tension in that area and also integrate the pelvic floor muscles into everyday movements in new ways.
And somewhat paradoxically, when the pelvic floor muscles can relax they become stronger.
Think about it a moment. If a muscle is always contracted, it has less ability to contract further. A habitually contracted muscle is a weak muscle. Better to learn how to relax your pelvic floor muscles and engage them when necessary for better breathing, sex, and healthier movement in general
Rather than isolating and strengthening the pelvic floor muscles, Feldenkrais-based sessions help them to relax, become stronger, and integrated into everyday healthy movement. Relax compulsive tension in your pelvic floor area so that you can have better control and functioning.
Try A Free Feldenkrais Session For Your Pelvic Floor?
Find a place to lie down, turn on your speakers, and then click to play. You will need about 30-minutes:
To get other pelvic floor sessions check out Pelvic Floor Sessions (For Men and Women)
There are many people teaching pelvic floor sessions in the feldenkrais community. Deborah Bowes has series sold directly by Al Waldleigh at Achieving Excellence.
Lavinia Plonka also has a series called, The Power of the Pelvis which you can purchase directly on her website.
If you are looking for a live workshop, you can search "feldenkrais pelvic floor" workshop on Google and are likely to find several examples. For example, these (past) workshops by the Feldenkrais Institute of Madrid, and one by Anita Noone called, Improved Pelvic Floor Organization, the Feldenkrais® Way.