Benefits of Pilates

by Balance & Control co-director Bruce Hildebrand

In teaching Pilates over the years, I’ve heard many and varied reports from my students about how they find Pilates to be helping them. Of course, each student starts with different goals in mind, and each will experience his or her own path through the method. The following is a general summary of the benefits that we see students finding through their Pilates practice.

IMPROVED POSTURE

Posture is one of the key areas that we focus on at Balance & Control. And we find that our students really respond. For example, one student caught sight of herself in a shop window and noticed that she was standing much taller in the spine. I was quite pleased at how excited she was to tell me about it!

REDUCTION IN PAIN

Because of our high-quality physiotherapy services, many clients come to us seeking treatment for injuries or chronic pain. We find that Pilates is a terrific complement to physiotherapy, helping our clients recover from injury and manage chronic pain. Often after an injury or episode of back or neck pain, the important supporting muscles of the spine become weak. Pilates teaches people how to engage and strengthen these important muscles. This in turn provides increased support and protection for the spine.

INCREASED FLEXIBILITY

I often hear students reporting improvements in flexibility and generally mobility, even without doing a significant amount of stretching. This is due to improving the function and balance of muscles, ensuring that they are working evenly around the joint. By strengthening weak muscles, the overworked tight strong muscles are able to relax and let go, leading to greater flexibility.

IMPROVED BALANCE

We have lots of tools and toys in the studio designed for challenging your balance. Balance work is important in rehabilitation of injuries, training muscle proprioception, and developing good balance for everyday life. Whether you are a dancer, rock climber, member of the older generation, or cyclist, we all need good balance!

IMPROVEMENT IN SPORTING PERFORMANCE

If you have competed in any type of sport, you will have noticed that niggling injuries can hold you back from performing at your peak. These injuries are often caused by using muscles incorrectly – by overusing or over-training select muscle groups, and neglecting others.

Pilates trains your muscles evenly. As you gain balance in muscle usage and learn control of your body, you become more efficient and improve your athletic performance. What could be better if you’re heading for a PB?

IMPROVED ENDURANCE

I hear many reports of students being able to sit or stand for longer before feeling tired, especially if they previously had low back pain.

Our bodies must constantly work to remain upright, working against the force of gravity. Fortunately, our deep postural muscles are designed to do just that. The postural muscles are built to work at a low intensity over long periods of time. If we have poor posture, however, we are most likely using our big movement muscles to support the body. Our big movement muscles are designed to work powerfully to move the body for relatively short periods of time, but they then fatigue. If we use the big movement muscles to provide postural support, they fatigue and we feel tired and stiff.

With Pilates you are learning to use the postural muscles to SUPPORT YOUR POSTURE. Your big movement muscles are then free to do their proper job. When you are using your postural muscles correctly, you are able to stand for longer, sit for longer and generally feel as if you have more energy to do your activities.

ABILITY TO SIT WITHOUT PAIN

By learning how to sit properly, using the correct muscles to support your body, you can significantly reduce pressure on your spine. Many students report a lessening of lower back pain coupled with reduced tension in the shoulders and neck.

RELAXATION

If you find it difficult to relax in a hectic lifestyle, Pilates will work wonders for you! Mental stress is reflected in the body as physical stress. Over time, your muscles tighten and then become unable to let go and relax. As part of your Pilates practice, you will be guided to identify any overactive, ‘stressed out’ muscles, and give them the opportunity to relax.

We can help muscles relax by:
a. Breathing well
b. Using imagery and other techniques to instruct muscles to relax
c. Use spikey balls and other self-massage tools
It’s inspiring to see how people can help themselves with the tools provided by Pilates. I see transformations every day in the studio!

Hope to see you soon in the studio!

Bruce

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