Is barre helping or harming your pelvic floor?
I want to start out by saying that I adore barre class. It was love at first sight – from the moment I placed my hand on that barre, I’ve been hooked. Since my first day a year and a half ago, I’ve taken more than 100 classes and I’m not looking back.
Here at 5 point PT, we see a lot of patients who take, or who have taken, barre class. Recently, a patient came in with pelvic floor dysfunction; she had also recently started barre class. Was this just a coincidence or could the class have caused her pelvic pain? My guess is the former, but barre certainly could have exacerbated any pre-existing issue.
When you walk into a barre class for the first time, the instructor will most likely show you how to do a “tuck” or “tilt” of the pelvis.
This tucking motion should come naturally to us, but since we’re all put together differently, some of us may experience difficulty. It’s possible to achieve the position by holding your breath or by utilizing the pelvic floor muscles. So think about this: if you already have a tight pelvic floor, then you “tuck” (tighten pelvic floor muscles) over 200 times in the space of an hour, this could exacerbate any pelvic floor issues you may have. On the other hand, if your pelvic floor muscles need some strengthening then barre class could be helpful for them, as well as your hip and abdominal muscles.
Aside from barre class, both Pilates and yoga also focus on engaging the pelvic floor muscles. In Pilates, your instructor may ask you to draw up your pelvic floor while pulling in your belly button. In yoga, the mula bandha or root lock, is also pulling up the pelvic floor to give the body stability.
So in the end, if we’re trying to find out if barre class and your pelvic floor can be friends, the answer is not so simple. As always, it’s important to pay attention to the messages your body is sending you. If you’re already pelvic floor pain or issues and you want to try barre, pay attention to how you feel during your workout class and after. If you aren’t sure if you are properly tucking, engaging pelvic floor, or performing mula bandha, make an appointment with a pelvic floor physical therapist!