Pilates is a brilliant form of full body exercise with a focus on precise actions and on smooth flowing movements. Pilates benefits you by working your core muscles. These include the transverse abdominus and oblique muscles, among others, which work like a corset around your abdomen. The central location of these muscles in your body means that they are in almost constant use when you move. Their function is to provide you with stability in your torso with movement. The result is that you have a strong and stable base from which you can move. For example, you can lift our feet when you walk while remaining upright with your torso and head.
What is Pilates all about?
There are several common misconceptions that people have regarding Pilates. These are, that it is only for women, especially pre or post-natal, it is for ballet dancers, it is easy and that it is lying on the floor and breathing.
Pilates is an effective form of exercise to improve core strength. This can be significantly reduced during pregnancy and birth so is frequently recommended for pre and post-natal women. However, it is also used by a wide range of other individuals of all levels of ability. This includes athletes from a range of sports, not just dancers. Although the founder, Josef Pilates, did initially use his method with ballet dancers in New York. Pilates benefits Olympic cyclist Victoria Pendleton, tennis Grand Slam winner Andy Murray, golfer Tiger Woods, as well as many rugby and football teams. The difficulty of the movements are therefore different depending on the capability of the individual. The final misconception, while focused and synchronised breathing is an element of Pilates it is done with movements. This increases the activation of some of the deeper abdominal muscles.
How does Pilates benefit compare to regular gym exercise?
Traditional gym exercises can be more biased to movements that shorten muscles or with more emphasis on the shortening phase of the movement. Take a biceps curl. The movement is to bend your elbow bringing the weight up towards your shoulder. The movement is then returned down but often quite quickly. The result of this training is that you develop shorter and more bulky muscles. Pilates typically works your body through larger movements. These movements involve the lengthening of muscles as well as shortening, and focus on smooth even movements. This has an effect of improving mobility and flexibility of your muscles and joints and building strength without bulk.
Pilates benefits you due to the elements of this unique method. These include body awareness, posture and balance, as well as the better known benefit of increasing core strength. As with other techniques such as yoga and meditation, breathing is a focused element of Pilates. It can therefore be effective for relaxation and improving mental health.
Try it for yourself!
Why not give us a call to find out more about Pilates benefits or to try a one to one, personally tailored class at Flawless Physio. You will see and feel the benefits of this excellent exercise for yourself. To know what to expect from your first class please see our advice centre articles “Pilates for Beginners”.