Pilates is a form of exercise developed by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century. In short it focuses on finding correct alignment of the body and training the deep stabilization muscles of the abdominals, back, hips and shoulders to maintain optimal alignment of the body. As you progress through the program your core muscles are trained to support your optimal body alignment during complex movement patterns.
How does this affect your body and everyday life? With a consistent Pilates practice you soon notice your everyday posture and movements improve. You are able to sit at your computer comfortably with little need for a back rest. You can walk and move with grace and ease. If you take part in other sports you soon find increased strength, power and form.
Also, with improved alignment of your body you may find chronic aches and pains in your joints are alleviated. Ailments such as bunions, chronic knee pain, SI joint pain, back pain, shoulder dysfunctions, neck pain, rounded shoulders, tech neck can all be improved by training your muscles to support improved posture and alignment of the body. You will find with a regular Pilates practice you can break poor postural habits you have had for a lifetime.
Why all the equipment? Most Pilates studios house many different pieces of Pilates equipment/apparatus such as reformers, chairs, barrels and trapeze or Cadillac tables. The equipment can look intimidating but during many exercises it unweights gravity from the body so you can learn to correctly activate your deep core musculature without the more superficial muscles taking over to do the job. Once you learn how to correctly utilize your core, the equipment gradually adds more challenge and variety to the workout so your core is trained to activate properly no matter what position your body gets in.
Why is training the core muscles so important? Some muscles in our body are developed for short bursts of strength while other muscles, mainly our core, are meant to stabilize the body all day long. Often times due to our modern lifestyle of sitting for prolonged periods of time or lounging on cushiony couches and chairs our core muscles turn off and don’t remember to turn back on again. The same thing happens if you have an acute injury to a body part or after pregnancy. If the core muscles are not activated before your body moves then your more superficial muscles take over to lend the support they are not meant to provide. This leads to low back strains and aches, tension in the neck and shoulders or overly tight hip flexors or hamstrings. Once the core muscles are retrained to wake back up and function properly the low back, neck, hip flexors and/or hamstrings can relax and rebalance themselves.
Pilates is truly a style of exercise unlike any other. A consistent Pilates practice will improve all aspects of movement in your life. My goal for all of my clients is for them to find enjoyment living in their bodies by learning true ease of movement in the way the human body was designed to move.
- Brynn Patterson, DPT, Certified Pilates Teacher, Erogonomist, Owner of Southtowns Pilates