Denise Small, DPT
Every Wednesday the PTs at Beyond Basics are fortunate enough to listen to lectures from medical professionals who specialize in pelvic pain. One of my favorite lectures was given by Melissa Farmer, PhD, a clinical psychologist who specializes in how the brain changes overtime in response to chronic pain. Melissa spoke about a lot of wonderful things that are being found through research; however the thing that was most interesting to me, was not only that the brain can change in response to persistent pain, but, that the brain can change back to its pre-pain functional self! One of the ways that this can be done is through focused movement. That is, thoughtful, pain- free movement focused around the area that normally causes pain. This revelation was very meaningful to me, as one of the basic Pilates movement principles is Concentration. Pilates believed that if your mind was fully focused on performing the given exercise, you would only need to perform a few repetitions to feel the benefit. This is very important for patients suffering from chronic pain, as they do not need to exercise to the point of pain to see the benefits. One of the exercises that exemplifies this belief is the Pelvic Clock. The pelvic clock both mobilizes and lengthens the pelvic floor muscles while simultaneously bringing tone to the abdomen. In addition, the movement is very small and specific and requires one’s full concentration. So, it is a great way to directly address the potential causes of pelvic pain, without causing pain in the process!
To begin, lie on your back with your knees bent. See, in your mind’s eye, the pelvis as the face of a clock with the top of your sacrum being 12 o’clock and your tailbone being 6 o’clock. Slowly move from each number as smoothly as possible, while seeing your sitz bones widen as your tailbone drops to 6 o’clock and your sitz bones narrow as you move to 12 o’clock. You can also combine the movement and breath as we have in our other Pilates blogs by inhaling as you move to 6 o’clock and exhaling as you move to 12 o’clock. If you have any questions, have your PT take you through this exercise on your next visit, or come see me for a private Pilates session. Your Body and Brain will thank you.