PhysioPilates Academy

Can Pilates strengthen the Pelvic Floor Muscles?

Can Pilates strengthen the Pelvic Floor Muscles?

Can Pilates strengthen the Pelvic Floor Muscles?

Amanda is a member of the Professional Network of Pelvic, Obstetric and Gynaecological PhysiotherapistsThis is a really great question.  As both a specialist pelvic floor physiotherapist and an experienced Pilates instructor the kind of question I like!

Think about skiing – you need to be fit already to ski well.  You don’t get fit skiing.

Pilates and the pelvic floor have a similar connection.  If you already know how to work your pelvic floor effectively, then  yes, definitely when you are practicing Pilates exercises there are lots of opportunities to be thinking about your pelvic floor.   Have a look at some of the blog posts tagged ‘pelvic floor’ where I show you great ways to make sure that you include your pelvic floor in some of the traditional Pilates exercises.

However, if your pelvic floor muscles are weak, or ‘switched off’ when you are doing pilates (so they could be perfectly good muscles but your brain is not telling them to work) then you could happily do an entire Pilates class with relatively little impact on the muscles at all. 

Without a proper pelvic floor contraction, challenging Pilates exercises (or aerobics or gym work) might be working you hard, but you will not be getting the proper benefit, and you could even risk making your problems worse by stretching the pelvic floor rather than strengthening it.

So if you have any worries that your pelvic floor is not quite what it should be, do make sure you get your GP to refer you to a Specialist Physiotherapist to get your technique checked before you do too much more with an unprotected pelvic floor.

Specialist pelvic floor physiotherapy

There is so much that a specialist pelvic floor physiotherapist can teach you to improve the internal muscle strength, endurance and co-ordination.  Through post-graduate training we have the skill to properly assess and examine the muscles.  We can show you different ways to the standard exercises you may have already tried, to encourage proper muscle activation; we have tricks, exercises, even great gadgets that can show you what you are doing and help your muscles work.  Specialist physiotherapists have passed exams to become full members of the Professional Network of Pelvic, Obstetric and Gynaecological Physiotherapy (POGP).    Ask your GP to refer you to the local NHS services (if you are Cambridge-based you can self-refer) or do come to see me at my practice (South Cambridge Physiotherapy). 

Was this post helpful to you?  Please do let me know in the comments section below.  Your feedback inspires me and helps me to think about what to write next.  Thank you.


4 thoughts on “Can Pilates strengthen the Pelvic Floor Muscles?

  1. SLO

    Thank you, this has been very helpful. I’ve just been diagnosed with a grade 1 cyctocele, which is a (thankfully, I suppose, all things relative!) a mild prolapsed bladder – caused by childbirth. My GP hopes this will be fixed with 3 months of pelvic floor physio, and I’m just waiting for a referral to that team. I forgot to ask my doctor about whether I should stop cardio, weights class and/or start pilates or wait until I get a proper assessment and speak to the physio team. Your article has been helpful, thank you. It’s so tough, my doctor has been great but I feel like the prevailing attitude of, ‘well you gave birth, some things will be wrecked’ isn’t helpful. Wish I had gotten help sooner, but at least now I’ll get some help and hopefully things will improve

    1. PhysioPilates

      Hi. Thank you so much for taking time to comment.You will learn loads when you get to see your local physio team 1:1 and you will be able to make the cystocele feel properly supported and less bothersome. Hope that appointment comes soon! Meanwhile do come over to my other site where we have articles aimed specially at mums wanting to build up pelvic floor and core – including lots of videos – epecially look at The Pelvic Floor School – this is a lot of what I teach people in my physio clinic. There is also a great booklet Pelvic Organ Prolapse: a guide for women available at

    1. PhysioPilates

      Thank you for taking time to comment! I expect you get asked this a lot at your Pilates studio too? Pilates and pelvic floor exercises can complement each other really well but it is important to get a proper pelvic floor assessment if the Pilates alone doesn’t seem to be getting the results you would expect.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *