Complementary Therapists > Pilates > Centring
Pilates Principles - Centring
The importance of stabilising the trunk of the body while we move has been explained at length elsewhere. It is a Pilates principle that you need to have mastered the engagement of the deep stabilising muscles before beginning a Pilates programme.
To achieve the best stability you need to engage the pelvic floor muscles while simultaneously hollowing the the lower abdominals to gain some traction with the tranversus abdominis. The pelvic floor muscles are the ones that stretch from under the groin back to the rectum. Sometimes these muscles are referred to as a sling upon which all of your internal organs sit. Strengthening the pelvic floor muscles helps both men and women.
Benefits of Centring
The following benefits accrue from the strengthening of the pelvic floor muscles:
How to Isolate and Engage Pelvic Floor Muscles
It can be difficult to successfully isolate and engage the pelvic floor muscles. The following advice may help.
1) Sit with a small towel, rolled up, underneath you and between your legs
2) Sit square with your weight evenly distributed. Attempt to draw up the muscles of your front passage as if you were trying to stop urinating. Do not tense your buttocks and never hold your breath.
3) Avoid tilting your pelvis
4) If you continue to experience problems engaging the pelvic floor muscles try this somewhat bizarre-sounding technique - suck your thumb.
Optimum stability is achieved when pelvic muscles are engaged and the lower abdominals are hollowed back towards the spine simultaneously. Recent advancements in Pilates have overtaken the original navel to spine method. Visualise that you have an internal zip from the pubic bone up to the navel. Draw up your pelvic floor muscles as you exhale. At the same time hollow the lower abdominals back to the spine as though you are pulling up this internal zip.
Adopt the following to make sure that there is no cheating or shortcuts:
A) Adopt the Relaxation position B) ensure the the pelvis is in neutral C) Zip up and hollow out as described above D) Do not allow your pelvis to tuck under E) Don't push into the spine F) Keep your coccyx on the floor lengthening away G) Breath an and relax.
It is important that the pelvis is not tilted north as you will lose the neutral position and means that the hip flexors and rectus abdominis are doing the work rather than the tranversus and internal obliques. Carefully check with your hand under your waist that you are not pushing into your spine.
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