Five reasons to do Pilates
You can get fit lying on the floor
F rom running to cycling, squash or football, it’s different strokes for different folks when it comes to moving our bodies. But there’s one form of exercise that ticks so many boxes and offers so many benefits in our tech-addicted, sedentary lives. Pilates is a system of exercises, using a floor mat or other equipment, which can improve posture, flexibility, strength and mental awareness. Here are some good reasons to give it a try...
IT COULD HELP YOU IMPROVE IN YOUR PREFERRED SPORT
If you think Pilates isn’t ‘your thing’, because you prefer a particular sport or more vigorous exercise, think again.
A strong core, good alignment and breathing technique will all help support your body in your fitness pursuits elsewhere.
Investing a little time in a strong core could pay dividends in terms of boosting your overall performance and preventing injury.
“In terms of runners, sometimes a slight imbalance in the body will go on to create problems because it’s such a repetitive movement you're doing. Even a small adjustment in your posture or in your core stability can make a huge impact,” says Lynne Robinson, founder of Body Control Pilates (bodycontrolpilates.com).
IT CAN HELP WITH CHRONIC PAIN
Of course, anybody with a medical condition or chronic pain should seek professional advice. But Pilates could become a central, possibly life-changing, part of how you manage your condition.
Strengthening your core and keeping muscles loose can help support your body and improve circulation. “Exercise is being described as the new drug, and is being prescribed as either an alternative to drugs or as a complementary therapy. It also has proven benefits for sufferers of neurological conditions, as well as the more common postural alignment benefits, improving lower back pain and in certain cases, even avoiding surgery,” says instructor Mary Huckle.
IT RELIEVES STRESS
Fans of Pilates are well aware that it works wonders for the mind as well as the body, and a recent study found it really does help us deal with mental and emotional stress.
“The scientists at the University of Pittsburgh have identified a circuit, which directly links part of the brain to the adrenal medulla [part of the adrenal gland, which triggers an adrenal surge when we feel stressed]. The same network is also associated with the part of our brain which controls movements,” says Robinson.
IT’S A GREAT DISCIPLINE
“Pilates in its gentlest form is very much a
mind/body discipline. It calms you inside and out, connecting you to your deeper core muscles,” notes Huckle.
Many ancient health philosophies – which informed much of modern medicine – revolve around holistic principles.
It’s something Western societies have lost touch with in modern times, but we only have to look at ourselves and our own experiences to be reminded just how true it is that physical and emotional health are closely intertwined: how you get more colds when you’re stressed; why that headache intensifies when you’re under pressure; how distractions can take the edge off that sore knee.
PHYSIOS OFTEN RECOMMEND IT
It’s easy to think you need to avoid physical activity when injured. Yet the opposite is true, and staying as regularly active as possible is actually vital in managing such problems. There’s good reason a lot of physiotherapists encourage patients to take up gentle Pilates.
“Pilates sessions can really help manage back pain. We work with our clients on safely strengthening the core posture, deep abdominal muscles and pelvic floor muscles that protect and support the spine. Regular Pilates sessions are fantastic for recovery, pain management and prevention,” says Laura Herman of Boost Physio.