8 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD DO PILATES
It’s often thought that Pilates is a female-dominated practice but in reality, many men participate as well, especially athletes. Used as a form of cross-training, athletes across the genders rely on Pilates to improve their overall performance. But, that doesn’t mean you have to be an athlete to participate. Quite the contrary, Pilates is suited for any body at any point in life. Pilates can complement your current exercise routine and serve as a fountain of youth for your overall physical well-being.
Here’s our top 8 reasons Pilates is suited for you:
Balance the body
Pilates brings to light any asymmetries and imbalances you may have. The exercise allows us to work all sides of the body: front, back, left and right. If you tend to favor one side of your body over the other, or if a group of muscles is weaker, Pilates will highlight those difference. It will allow you to correct for those differences.
If you haven’t been giving your posture enough love because you sit at a desk all day, drive in a car endlessly, or just don’t know how, Pilates inherently promotes good posture & alignment. Pilates corrects poor posture by encouraging the muscles that “lift” you up. Good posture is not just for your appearance – it’s also for your health! Proper posture reduces the wear and tear on your spine and improves your balance, which, can decrease in quality as you age. If balance degrades, you’re more prone to injury by tripping and/or falling.
Pilates focuses on many of the small muscles you likely don’t train with other forms of exercise (and you’ll thank us for that!). If you have a regular routine, you probably work the same muscles all the time (and to be fair, that’s probably your goal). Pilates gets to the teeny-tiny, deep stabilizing muscles which in turn support your larger, moving muscles.
Pilates focuses on diaphragmatic breathing, which oxygenates your muscles (and your entire body) so that they can perform better. Deep, quality breath helps your heart with blood circulation, reduce stress, and increases overall mental clarity. Proper breathing even helps with injuries improving load tolerance through pressure management. According to research, Pilates breathing during core exercises was proven to reduce and prevent injury in comparison to the same exercises performed without focus on breath.
A few of the main principles of Pilates are precision, centering, and control. The beauty of practicing Pilates is that these principles translate into other forms of physical activity. This memory allows your muscles to perform better allowing more control over your movements. One of the most common causes of injury is improper form. With Pilates, no movement occurs without hyper-focus on alignment of skeletal and muscular structures. That said, alignment will carry through to everything else you do.
Recover from injuries
Since Pilates can be tailored to any level and for any injury, it makes a beautiful addition to a physical therapy program. With that in mind, it makes for a more active recovery process following injury or surgery.
Reduces back pain
Pilates has proven to be just as effective as, if not more than, massage therapy for alleviating lower back pain – which seems to affect pretty much all of us (male and female) as we age!
Increase your range of motion
Pilates’ focus on flexibility and lengthening will increase your range of motion, making everyday movements (like bending over to get something from the ground) and physically related movements significantly easier.
How is Pilates different from yoga and other Mat classes?
Many people will group Mat Pilates and yoga in the same category, since they’re both (usually) done barefoot, on a Mat, in a studio, and have a general focus on lengthening and breathing. But, the similarities pretty much end there!
While yoga is more about flexibility and strength from the root upward (base of the feet to the sky) with a focus of unionizing body, mind, and soul, Pilates focuses predominantly on anatomical and physical function, with all exercises radiating from the core, in an effort to unify the breath with the body to optimize length, strength, and function.
How can I start a Pilates practice as a beginner?
Often, the best way to start Pilates is with private, individual classes. This allows the teacher to focus and adjust you directly as well as learn proper technique building from a good foundation. Another option is to begin practicing at home with videos specifically tailored to beginers.
How can I start a Pilates practice if I’m already pretty active?
Quite frankly, the same was as If you’re a beginner. Pilates is an invaluable form of exercise if done correctly. It’s best to learn the proper technique, posture and alignment so that you can take advantage of all of the benefits Pilates has to offer.
About the author:
Dr. Sarah Cash Crawford, PT, DPT, COMT, CMTPT, is a Physical Therapist and Certified Pilates Instructor. She has been a practicing physical therapy for over nine years. With a background in neurologic rehabilitation, manual therapy and a specialty in treating chronic pain, Dr. Crawford began studying Pilates to further expand her treatment options to help patients overcome physical limitations. Dr. Crawford is the founder of the Anchor Wellness Center & Anchor Wellness, Inc., an integrative health practice that specializes in physical therapy and pilates.