Why do Pilates?
I believe Pilates is good for everybody. Here’s why.
There are 3 key ideas in Pilates designed to make your muscles work better and for you to feel great: Strengthen, Stabilise and Stretch.
Pilates exercises are designed to strengthen your muscles. Every exercise in Pilates is designed to strengthen the muscles you’re primarily working, from your core to your gluteals to your arms. Different exercises work different muscles, and most Pilates classes will cover the main muscle groups every week. If your muscles in one area aren’t strong enough, other muscles will try to compensate. For example, many people suffer from lower back pain as a result of weak gluteals (the muscles in your bottom). This is why many physiotherapists recommend Pilates as part of injury rehabilitation programmes.
Muscles are designed to stabilise your joints. Many of us have one or more joints where the muscles are unable to provide this stability – and this leads to injuries. Many Pilates exercises teach you to keep one area of the body stable while moving another. This usually requires you to work your core muscles, to maintain the stability of your trunk (aka your body minus limbs) while you move your arms or legs. If you are hypermobile, working on joint stability is a key way to manage the condition.
Stability also means balance. Balance is critical for all of us, but particularly as we get older, helping to minimise the risk of falling. Although you may think about balancing on one leg, which is a good way to practice balance, in reality we are all balancing every time we move – we instinctively try to move our body so that we remain standing. But sometimes we might trip and move into a much more unstable position. If you work on improving your balance as part of your regular exercise, it can help to reduce falls and the associated injuries.
Everyone has different natural levels of flexibility. However flexible you are, you may notice that certain activities over time may reduce your natural flexibility: running, cycling, weightlifting, not to mention 8 hours a day sitting at a desk. These aren’t activities that we want to cut out of our lives, but the average amount of stretching included in exercise sessions is usually insufficient to relax and lengthen the most heavily worked muscle groups. Sometimes over-worked muscle groups become excessively tight, which can lead to pain and injuries, so it is worth taking the time to lengthen your muscles and restore flexibility on a regular basis.
As you delve more deeply into Pilates you’ll discover more principles and benefits of Pilates. For example, Pilates can help you to feel refreshed mentally as well as physically, as it’s designed to include a certain amount of mindfulness: exercises are taken slowly, so you can focus on breathing and controlled movement, using the right muscles.
Want to give it a try? Take a look at our classes.