Your body is an elegantly designed machine. Machines are designed so that each part works correctly in relation to the other parts. Then the machine runs efficiently, is functional, long-lasting and durable. Pilates-based exercise can help your body to be the most functional machine possible.
Most people have heard of Pilates but struggle to describe it. Patients in our physical therapy clinic sometimes ask what “Pilates is” and if they should “do it”. Let’s de-mystify Pilates and explore the benefits of incorporating this type of exercise into our lives.
What is Pilates?
Pilates was originally called “Contrology” by its creator, a German-born American named Josef Pialtes. He developed this system of exercise in the earlier part of the 20th century to help himself, and eventually many others, to become strong, stable, and functional.
The Pilates method teaches people to use their bodies correctly. It starts with simple, basic exercises and progresses to more complex movement as participants are ready. The result is muscles that work as designed and joints that are aligned. Posture is improved, body awareness is developed, joint and muscle flexibility is optimal, muscle power output is better. Core strength is emphasized so the body has the best support system possible. Thus, the human body “machine” works the very best it can, needs fewer repairs, and feels the best it can (this machine has nerves for feeling). And we haven’t even talked about looking better!
The Benefits of Pilates
A body that is working the best it can is more successful at athletic endeavors, can move through daily activities with ease, can allow people to be more confident in trying new things. Imagine the possibilities: yard work is easier, playing on the floor with grand children is an option, training for an athletic event without injury is possible. I could go on, but instead just ask yourself what physical activity is important to you? How is it going? Would a strong, stable, flexible body improve this activity?
Ways to Practice Pilates
Basic Pilates movements are learned on a mat in normal body positions: laying on back, stomach, side, kneeling, sitting, standing. Progress is easy to see and measure. Once basic concepts are mastered participants can continue on their own at home. Some prefer to join a class taught by a qualified instructor. Others love individual instruction in a studio which has wonderful Pilates machines. No one is ever finished learning Pilates but make decisions on the amount and intensity that suits their lifestyle, goals and budget.
All machines work best with preventative maintenance instead of expensive repair. Consider adding Pilates to your life to take the best care of your body!
At Holland Physical Therapy we use Pilates principles both in the treatment of patients and during private Pilates sessions with our Pilates instructor Ruth Pratt. Check out our website for more information.