How Do I Scoop My Abdominals In And Up?
You may have attended a class and heard the Pilates phrase “scoop your abdominals.” The “scoop” starts with the engagement of the pelvic floor, and the pull in and up begins just above the pubic bone and progresses upward to the navel and upper abdominals.
The pelvic floor is the foundation, or basement, of the core. It supports the lower abdominal cavity, bladder and uterus as well as the deep muscles of the abdomen and back, just like a backyard hammock cradles a napper on a summer afternoon.
Building Core Strength
These pelvic floor muscles, tendons and ligaments help to stabilize the pelvis and form a supportive sling at the base of the pelvic bowl. They also assist in developing the Pilates goal of core strength.
Weak pelvic floor muscles often lead to attempts by other parts of the body to compensate for core weakness, resulting in a domino effect of structural imbalances throughout the body which could result in abdominal or back pain.
It is important for both men and women to do exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. But how?
1) Pilates uses the pelvic floor muscles to assist with muscular support during exercise. One of the verbal cues is to engage the muscles to “draw in and up”. How do you do that? Try squeezing the “sit bones” together and up and imagine the flow of energy hugging the center line of the body, traveling up the spine, and exiting the top of the head.
The sequence is not as easily defined as you might think. In fact, you may not feel it the first few times, but with continued practice and body awareness you will begin to perfect your scoop.
Practice Pilates To See Results
Remember, Pilates is a practice. The more you do it the the more you begin to identify and activate the muscle or muscle group that needs to be engaged to perform the task.
Note: the pelvic scoop should not occur with such an emphatic “pull in” as to result in a loss of the natural curve of the spine or create a forward flexion of the upper spine. When you are able to isolate the appropriate muscles, you should still be able to expand the ribcage and back for the deep breathing required to flow through your workout.
2) Kegel exercises also help to recover muscle tone. While Kegels are most commonly associated with women they can be beneficial for both men and women alike.
Don’t overdo this. Just use the technique to find the muscles you need to engage. Too much Kegeling can weaken rather than strengthen the pelvic floor.
Integrate your newly found scoop for a more effective workout. Happy scooping!!!