Modern day society is hard on our bodies. Hours slumped in front a computer screen, driving in cars, or sitting in front of a TV can wreak havoc on our backs, necks and general feeling of well being. Americans have an epidemic of poor posture that contributes to back and neck pain and feelings of malaise. Our necks and shoulders tend to be rounded forward, our backs and hips tight, and our abdominals weak. There are also a multitude of mental stresses which accumulate in our busy world. A Pilates exercise program can help to counteract all these stressors and help improve your overall health.
Pilates is more than just a workout. By activating deep muscles, a client finds new ways to move that cause less stress and fatigue on the body. Spinal flexibility improves. Poor postural habits and biomechanics are retrained. Breathing is emphasized. At the end of a Pilates session, people report feeling energized, with aches and pain diminished.
The Pilates method of training was developed by Joseph Pilates during the early 1900’s to improve his own health and rehabilitate himself from childhood illnesses he endured. He used his unique form of training to rehabilitate war injured soldiers during WW1 and brought Pilates to the USA in the 1930’s. This is where he continued to train clients for improved health, fitness and rehabilitation of injuries.
During the 1990’s, research by Richardson, Hodges and Jull emerged advocating the principles of motor control retraining in patients with post acute and chronic low back pain. It is this motor control retraining that is the foundation of the Pilates technique. Lumbopelvic stabilization occurs by activating the diaphragm, transverse abdominis, multifidus and pelvic floor, all which are used during a typical Pilates program.
Research now supports that Pilates is helpful in reducing back pain. A study done by the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy found that 4 weeks of Pilates, done 2 times a week, significantly eased low back pain. A study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that women strengthened their abdominal muscles by an average of 21% after 36 weeks doing Pilates one time a week. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Asian Journal of Sports Medicine both reported improved flexibility and lumbopelvic stabilization after just 4 weeks of Pilates training.
So what will Pilates exercises do for you?
- Increase strength and flexibility – sculpt and retrain your body with a comprehensive workout, focusing on core muscles.
- Boost brain power – utilize deep breathing and mental focus to clear the mind and promote relaxation.
- Improve posture – strengthen neglected and stretch tight muscle groups.
- Diminish joint and muscle pain – rehabilitate back, neck, shoulder, hip, knee and ankle injuries.
- Enhance athletic performance -join the many professional athletes who have improved their game with Pilates.
Joseph Pilates was a pioneer in the fitness and rehabilitation industry. He dreamed his exercises would be taught all over the world. Today, Pilates is taught in many countries, to all kinds of people, including seniors, athletes, celebrities, people rehabilitating from an injury, and people who just want to feel better in their everyday life.