Pilates: The Benefits
I often get asked what is the benefit of Pilates? Why would you want to do it? For me the answer is
simple : Why wouldn’t you want to? I often say Pilates will help you to lengthen, strengthen, increase tone, flexibility, improve posture, stabilise your pelvis and your spine and give you a stronger core.
So lets use those to break it down.
This simply means that Pilates will help you to find that extra space in your joints, to decompress you. Have you ever felt like you need someone to pull your arms and legs in different directions? Pilates does just that- especially the machines- but without pulling your arms and legs off! Because we work in all movements of the spine, this really does help you feel like you have grown an extra inch or two!
As well as giving you a lovely long body and limbs, the movements will strength the surrounding muscles and joints. No it wont give you bulging muscles- maybe if you put all the springs on the reformer- but it will certainly give you strength. And that’s not reserved just for your abdominals, every movement utilises your entire body, but without loading it.
With all that strength and length will come the tone and sculpt of using your muscles correctly. Even the very little tiny ones! We often just work our very big muscles, but it it is also the little ones that give us definition and detail to our bodies, just look at Jennifer Aniston’s arms!
Because we are working our bodies to their full range we also increasing our flexibility. No you won’t feel the stretch like you will in a Yoga class, but that’s not what we are aiming to do. In fact, you only occasionally find a static stretch in a class. Most of the stretch comes from the dynamic nature of Pilates, where we re-train our bodies and brain to allow the joint to move more. This means less stress on the tissues and joint, and is a very subtle benefit!
As you learn to work the right parts of your body in the right positions, as a side effect, your posture will improve. Your shoulders will sit resting on your ribcage, your chest open and wide instead of closed, your spine longer and so you taller!
Stabilise your pelvis and your spine and a stronger core
The movements need complete control from the core muscles. Without this control, you will end up using the wrong muscles, usually the bigger ones. You roll, rock and loose any ability to stay still on the mat! We work the deep layer of muscles, which means the ones that sit closest to the spine and help support it, the ribs, shoulders and the pelvis. This means better movement patterns, posture, breathing, and all the above.
As you can see, you wont just get one benefit but several, and you can’t have one without the other. Each is intertwined with the next and so you never really focus on just one, but all at the same time. This is achieved through our principles and through regular practice, hence why 1 session is never enough!
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