Over the years I have struggled with back and neck issues, requiring frequent chiropractic visits, adjustments and even vitamin supplements. While the benefits of chiropractic care are many, I wanted to be in a position where I was so physically fit that I could just do a monthly ‘wellness’ adjustment. A year and a half ago I implemented a rigorous fitness routine into my life, working out for an hour or more each day, at least 5 days a week. The workouts started with simple running and then cross training, weight training and now other routines.
One of the greatest workouts I have done is Pilates. According to What is Holistic, Pilates is an exercise system from the 1920s that is intended to increase strength and flexibility and help prevent injury. Pilates uses controlled movements on or off an exercise apparatus called a reformer. It was initially used for both athletes and dancers for rehabilitation from injury. Some of the benefits are better posture, a stronger back, an aligned spine, a flatter stomach and balanced legs.
The Benefits of Pilates
We did an interview with a fitness trainer and certified Pilates Instructor, Darby Ze (check out her Darby Fit Facebook page!) and this is what she had to say about the benefits of Pilates:
Rids Back Pain: Over 80% of Americans have lower back pain. So much of this is due to lax abdominal muscles and a sedentary lifestyle. Pilates helps to stretch out overworked and shortened back muscles. When engaged properly, the abdominal muscles wrap around the spine allowing the back to be supported.
Lengthen and Strengthen: Pilates focuses on stretching, lengthening and extending the muscle to the fullest, then engaging. This allows you to feel leaner and taller and fights muscle bulkiness that can happen with traditional weight training.
Increases Body Awareness: After only a few Pilates sessions, clients can usually see a difference in their posture and abdominal activation. This occurs because you become more aware of your isolated movements and the importance of proper form in holding Pilates positions while breathing and moving. This really helps with focus, breath coordination and overall body awareness, and this all pervades into daily life.
Improved Posture: Training your body to function in proper posture is tougher than you think, especially while exerting force during Pilates moves. Creating a taller and more poised movement is just one of the lovely perks of Pilates.
Flattening the Tummy: Many of us want killer abs. Losing a little of the winter weight can help, but so can Pilates. “Scooping” your abdominal muscles, engaging your transverse muscles (the deepest abdominal muscles that wrap around like a corset) and pulling your navel in towards your spine is one of the very basics of Pilatesform.
Pilates is a great sculpting tool and helps with overall flexibility. It also pushes your abs to do most of the work even when you are performing an arm or leg exercise. When your abdomen is properly engaged it will help to lift and sustain the position of the body part in use. Add a Pilates session to your routine–especially if you want a flatter tummy–and reap the rewards of this incredible form of exercise.