A path to feeling good

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Updated: May 27, 2020

What a heck is Pilates ?

Pilates is a form of overall strength and conditioning used in the development of strong core muscles which also focuses on breathing, toning muscles, balance, alignment ( posture) and ranges of motion ( flexibility).

In other words, during Pilates, you strengthen and stretch muscles, lengthening muscles that are short, and strengthening muscles that need to be strengthened.

The exercises help with coordination incorporating lots of muscles in one exercise. It enhances functional movement due to the coordinated exercises and concentration on the core muscles.

Overall, Pilates focuses on the deeper muscle groups, or ‘local’ stabilisers -(the muscles responsible for stabilising the body during the movement ).

One of the most famous one, the TA or Transversus Abdominal, is a deeper core muscle that runs transversally located between the belly button and pubic bone going around until the lower back . TA is the key for flat abdominals.

In general the “ local stabiliser” muscles job are to control joint movement and sustain the stability of the joints that can often be damaged through repetitive and high demand training.

Pilates equals deep strength, not superficial . Being more effective and assisting with injury prevention.

Pilates develops awareness of the body, through controlled and smooth movement.

It also focuses on good postural alignment which will help an individual perform a movement efficiently, reducing the amount of unnecessary strain on the muscles and joints. After a Pilates class you feel aligned and taller .

Finally, the emphasis on breathing helps with focus, relaxation and precise movements . During the practice you need to think about what you are doing physically and mentally. It is a mind body system.

In the end of the day what I really love is that you can bring all the principles of Pilates in inspirational tips for life not only during your Pilates practice.

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Updated: Feb 9, 2018

1. Breathing.

Make sure you are breathing through the movement. As with any exercise, or any situation in life really, holding your breath may result in detrimental effects . Breathing well will ensure proper oxygenation of the muscles and facilitation of adequate muscular contractions ( e.g. to contract the TA it is necessary a proper exhalation, by contracting you are actually working on strengthening).

2. Ensure correct alignment.

No matter what part of the body is working, it is imperative that the entire body maintains the best alignment possible. If body segments are not lined up, it can result in less than desirable results and possibly increased tension.

The same for life, good posture translate in confidence, your body talks, how you show up to the world. Joseph Pilates said: “ You are as older as your spine “, a 30 years old with bad posture looks older than a 60s with straight spine.

3. Eye focus.

Keeping your eyes focused in the right direction will ensure that the head and neck are in proper alignment. This will could have a dramatic effect on neck and shoulder tension and could also help alleviate neural issues in the whole upper quadrant. Translating into inspirational life tip “ where your attention goes the energy flows” . Your eyes lead the direction.

4. Less is more.

Sometimes, slow controlled movements are harder to perform and more beneficial in the long run. Performing exercises deliberately will allow greater focus and ensure that each of them is being performed correctly. Done this way, fewer repetitions are necessary. Life tips “ Quality over quantity”, a few good ones is better than a lot of not good one.

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  • Admin

Updated: Feb 9, 2018

I am an athlete and still not convinced that I can get benefits from Pilates to increase my performance. To me Pilates is for girls , dancers ,post baby or rehabilitation.

With exercises that focus on elongation, core control and stability, and muscle balance, Pilates benefits athletes by developing all of the components needed for good running , cycling or swimming.

Specifically, Pilates helps in the following elements:

Head position: Learning to keep your head and neck in a neutral position will help you improve upper body movement and reduce fatigue.

Upper Back Extension and Rotation: Doing movements that help open up and mobilize your thoracic spine (upper/mid back) will help keep you upright. Think about all that sitting, hunched and rounded over. Extension and rotation of the thoracic spine help by loosening tight muscles and increasing your range of motion. Your spine needs to be able to rotate well to counter balance your stride for example. A Pilates workout always includes spinal mobility.

Chest Expansion: By opening up your chest, not only are you giving your body a shot at more efficient respiration, but you are also increasing your arm swing range of motion. Efficient breathing is a key component of a Pilates practice, and you will learn to use your breath as a tool with movement.

Shoulder Rotation and Mobility: A powerful stride is not only leg driven. You need your arms to drive back with your elbows, forcing your center of gravity forward. Organization of your shoulders, head and neck is part of a Pilates session.

Hip Extension: Sitting can shorten and tighten hip flexors, which are essential to a runner’s stride. Ideally, as runners, we want our pull through just as smooth as our forward stride. Plus, the tightness of hip flexors throws the pelvis off balance by tilting it forward, throwing your stride off balance. Efficient hip mobility can improve your cadence. Pilates helps hip mobility and length of hip flexors with hip-specific exercises and proper stretching technique.

Glute Engagement: The glutes are our biggest muscles and the most powerful allies for runners. Frequently, however, glutes are not used as much by runners as they could be. That is when muscle imbalance occurs: a runner starts using their quads or other front leg muscles to compensate. Glutes also can be hard to “fire” (as in: use them).

Footwork: We run on our feet. It makes sense to address alignment and foot flexibility. Tight and inflexible feet can be a contributor to plantar fasciitis. Pilates session works through ankle mobility, dorsiflexion and plantar flexion moves.

If you’d like to improve your efficiency as an athlete, Pilates can help you identify and correct your individual muscular imbalances. By adding a Pilates practice to your training, you can improve your posture and learn how to engage the muscles that help you keep that upright posture and maintain it through a race.

Not convinced yet ? Come and try it . Give it a go!

See you on the Mat soon.

by Julia Comodo

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