Pilates is a physical fitness program that was developed by Joseph Pilates in Germany during the 20th century. This form of exercise focuses on the core postural muscles essential in providing support for the spine. Pilates also teaches awareness of proper breathing techniques during all exercises so individuals can benefit from improved ventilation and oxygenation. Pilates can be a great form of exercise on its own, or it can be adjunctive in training for other sports and athletic events.
Pilates focuses largely on strengthening the deep core muscles. Specifically, the transverse abdominis (the deepest abdominal muscle) plays a key role in core strength.
Deep and effective breathing throughout the various pilates exercises is important, as it not only oxygenates the muscles, but also reduces tension in the upper neck and shoulders. Pilates attempts to coordinate solid breathing practice with movement and breathing instructions are given with every exercise. As Joseph Pilates stated, "Even if you follow no other instructions, learn to breathe correctly."
Pilates strengthening and stretching exercises may be performed while lying on mats (either on your back, stomach or side), in a standing position or in a variety of positions while stabilizing on large Exercise Balls. Each Pilates class at Toronto SEMI promises to deliver a varied work-out, incorporating numerous positions to challenge each individual.
Pilates is beneficial for a variety of athletes. Specifically, runners can enhance their performance on hills by improving their postural muscle set and tennis players and golfers can enhance their swing and achieve greater control and power by having a strong 'core.' Static and dynamic stability throughout the body is achieved when the active, passive and neuromotor control systems work together to transfer load1. Therefore, core strength and stability is essential in helping to reduce the risk of peripheral joint and muscle injuries.Individuals who suffer from low back pain can benefit from improved flexibility of the lumbar spine and core strength. By improving core strength, less force is placed upon the ligamentous structures of the spine which are susceptible to damage. Furthermore, by strengthening deep muscles of the spine such as the multifidus, degenerative changes which occur over time can be reduced significantly.
For many people, pilates can aid in the relief of stress and help to promote relaxation. With a strong focus on breathing and slowness of movement, one is able to unwind and take a break from the stresses of everyday life. Restoring the mind/body balance on a regular and frequent basis is a key component in maintaining good mental and physical health.If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask any of our helpful front-desk staff or Sport Physiotherapists. We look forward to seeing you...on the mat!
ReferencesPanjabi MM (1992). The stabilizing system of the spine. Part I: Function, dysfunction, adaptation, and enhancement. J Spinal Dis 5: 383-389.
Pilates, Joseph (1945 - Re-released 1998). Pilates' Return to Life through Contrology. Incline Village: Presentation dynamics. ISBN 0961493798.