Pilates training develops the necessary strength and mind-body connection to hold our spine, joints and bones in the most anatomically correct positions, enabling us to move more effectively. It develops the deep muscles which support our skeleton, allowing a more balanced body and connected core. It helps eliminate creaky hips and shoulders, and trains you to develop better spinal mobility, and placement during exercise. With this we can train harder, work harder – in general – move more efficiently and with less likelihood of injury no matter what we do from construction to desk work.
Yes, it focuses on the core, yet core does not just mean abs and back. We in Pilates refer to the core as the deepest layer of muscle which is closest to our skeleton. These are the local stabilizers which control neutral joint position and segmental motion. They provide proprioceptive input about joint position, range, and rate of movement. They are also active continuously during movement, thus are endurance type muscles. When there is muscle pain, injury or movement impairment the stabilizers become inhibited and since they control joint placement our body no longer can stabilize itself or we cannot hold our spine or joints properly. When this happens, our larger more superficial muscles called global stabilizers, have to work harder, become overactive and react to this pathology with spasm.
Stability retraining can only be accomplished with low load core conditioning focusing on the mind-body connection, to retrain motor control and endurance. Pilates works our body starting with the deepest muscle layer outwards.
The video below is a great example of these principles – this isn’t a normal squat:
Pilates training is essential to any fitness program. With its emphasis on alignment, breath, total body conditioning, it educates the participant on proper form and function. The following video demonstrates how paying attention to alignment can greatly increase the challenge of an exercise;
It makes one mindful of how to stand, squat, flex, extend, bend and move in a stronger more stable way. If you do not develop and connect with your core muscles no amount of weight lifting, squatting or cross training will change your physique. In fact you may well continue to develop muscle bulk as the global or superficial muscles continue to over work while the deeper intrinsic muscle layer fights for stability. Stop the battle! Let Pilate’s balance your strength and flexibility – develop body equilibrium.
By Samantha T. Reed
Reference: Injuries and Special Populations Manual, Stott Pilates, 2010.