Discover all the benefits of Pilates
Pilates is a method of maintenance and muscular reinforcement which aims at repeating and linking different movements, more or less difficult according to the desired level, but always in the respect of the body and the physical limits of each one.
The method is based on several principles to be taken into account to perform all the movements efficiently: Centering, control, fluidity, breathing, precision and concentration. Therefore, Pilates is an activity with many benefits, but what are they?
What is Pilates?
Founded by Joseph Pilates in the 1920s, the method is a low-impact workout that focuses on stretching, strengthening, breathing and proper body alignment through slow, controlled movements that target core strength, flexibility and alignment.
The proposed exercises are known to correct body imbalances, particularly through unilateral movements that focus on the abdominals, lower back, hips, thighs and buttocks.
The benefits of Pilates
Pilates emphasizes controlled breathing and movement. Proper alignment is prioritized and the focus is on fluid movements that help you connect with your body.
While it may seem lower intensity than other types of activity, the positive effect it can have on your fitness and well-being is often underestimated.
Pilates strengthens your entire body
A typical Pilates workout activates the abdominals, obliques and other core muscles that support your spine. Over time, this activation will strengthen your back, core and hip muscles, and lead to a stronger, more flexible spine and better pelvic and hip alignment.
In fact, a 2015 study from the University of Padua, Italy, and published in the Journal of the American Aging Association evaluated the effectiveness of 12-week Pilates exercises on muscle strength on a group of postmenopausal women, confirmed that Pilates increased abs, and lower body muscle strength.
The benefits don't stop there. A strong spine and core help reduce the risk of injury, maintain better posture and allow you to achieve better Pilates technique. The stronger your core, the easier it is for your body to locate, activate and train the right muscles so that other muscles don't end up overcompensating.
Increase your flexibility
Having trouble touching your toes? Pilates improves the flexibility of your muscles and the mobility of your joints. That's because Pilates exercises are essentially a series of dynamic stretches that do wonders to lengthen your muscles.
As your flexibility improves, you may also find that you are able to go further and jump higher in your other workouts. A benefit of flexibility is an increased range of motion around the joints, and well-stretched muscles can more easily achieve a full range of motion.
Pilates and balance
Having good balance means that you can control your body position, whether you are moving slowly or quickly. Better balance comes from better movement control, which comes from a strong core and flexible muscles - two things that a regular Pilates routine will definitely help you develop.
A 2007 study from Loma Linda University in the United States, published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies found that adults who completed 10 sessions of Pilates exercises showed a significant change in dynamic balance on a functional range test.
Improve your posture
Pilates promotes good posture by helping to realign the body and spine. Sitting and standing with proper alignment not only helps keep your spine strong and healthy, but also plays an important role in improving blood circulation and supporting muscles, ligaments and tendons.
A 2016 study published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science, found that Pilates not only improves posture by improving body awareness, but can also be an effective treatment for specific postural misalignments.
Pilates for your back pain
For people with back pain, pilates can be an effective way to reduce discomfort and improve mobility. Pilates is an exercise system that encourages proper alignment and uses the deep abdominal muscles to support the spine. By strengthening these muscles and improving flexibility, pilates can help relieve pressure on the spine and reduce pain. In addition, pilates can also help improve posture and prevent further injury by correcting muscle imbalances. For best results, pilates should be practiced regularly under the guidance of a certified instructor. However, even a few sessions can bring significant relief to back pain sufferers.
Improve your mood
It is a well known fact that exercise is beneficial to our mental health, and Pilates is no exception. Focusing on your breathing has been shown to reduce stress, increase endorphins (the happy hormone) and, over time, increase lung capacity. This means your body is able to deliver more oxygen to your brain, helping you feel more awake, alert and ready to go.
Pilates can help you in your other activities
Whether you combine Pilates with other low-impact workouts like yoga and swimming or do it with high-impact exercises like HIIT and cardio, you'll find that a regular Pilates routine will help you get closer to your overall fitness goals. That's because the benefits of Pilates - increased strength, improved posture, greater flexibility - all build up to better full-body strength, helping you squat deeper, reach farther and jump higher.
Doing Pilates in combination with other forms of exercise can help build your resistance to injury and can be used in early rehabilitation after an injury. Dancers, for example, use Pilates as a form of cross-training to help isolate, activate and strengthen muscles, which helps reduce the risk of injury due to muscle imbalances.
If the majority of your workouts tend to be high impact, such as HIIT, cardio and strength, you may want to consider using Pilates as a recovery workout.
Pilates also helps to create a greater range of motion. This can be especially beneficial for those who run, swim or dance, as a greater range of motion in the hip joints can improve stride length and technique.
Pilates is for everyone
Regardless of your age or fitness level, the Pilates session and exercises can be adapted to suit everyone, even if you are just starting out or returning to the sport.
Whether you choose Pilates as your primary discipline or take classes on an occasional basis you will reap a long list of benefits including increased core strength, improved posture and flexibility and better balance.