8 Reasons Why You Should Add Pilates To Your Exercise Regime

Now that we are starting to return to a new normality, the main holiday period is coming to an end and the children are returning to school, time to look at your own routine and get yourself back on track with your exercise regime. Below are 8 great reasons why you should incorporate Pilates into your routine.  And if you don’t feel comfortable returning to a class just yet, consider joining a live streaming class on line instead which can be done from the comfort of your own home.

DEVELOPS A STRONG AND EFFICIENT CORE

Having a strong core goes further than just toning your abdominals.  In Pilates, the core consists of the deep abdominal muscles along with the muscles closest to the spine.  Control of the core is achieved by integrating the trunk, pelvis and shoulder girdle.  When your trunk is strong, it can help decrease back and hip pain.  It also reduces your risk of injury in movements such as lifting or bending down, whether performed in daily life or in a particular sport.

IMPROVES POSTURE

Poor posture is a common cause of muscular pain and stiffness in the body.  In Pilates, there is an emphasis on using proper alignment during the exercises to improve postural issues such as cervical or thoracic kyphosis (rounding of the neck or shoulders) and lumbar lordosis (swayback).  If you find yourself sitting at a desk for long periods of time, or bending over a laptop, tablet or even your mobile phone, you may begin to feel a strain in your shoulders, neck or upper back which will pull the body out of alignment if not corrected.

ENHANCES SPORTS PERFORMANCE AND REDUCES RISK OF INJURY

If you are a sports enthusiast or athlete, Pilates can help improve your performance and decrease the risk of injury.  Many sports such as racket sports or golf use repetitive movements that use one side of the body eventually causing an imbalance in your muscles which can lead to pain.  Pilates will help to re-balance these muscles.  A strong core and joints will also help to stabilise your body when moving so as to reduce the risk of injury and to help you recover from injury more quickly.

REDUCES BACK PAIN

1 in 10 people suffer with lower back pain globally with 2.5 million people suffering with back pain every day of the year in the UK.  Did you know Pilates is often prescribed as a remedy for back pain as it strengthens the abdominals and all of the muscles of the trunk. When your back or abdominals are weak, it can cause imbalances in the body which in turn leads to pain. 

HELPS REDUCE SYMPTOMS OF ARTHRITIS

Arthritis is an inflammatory condition of the joints which can affect the quality of life.  Pilates helps to get the blood circulating through the body which promotes less inflammation in the joints.  Arthritis can also lead to the joints becoming weakened as well and Pilates can help strengthen those joints to help you stay mobile in your daily life.

IMPROVES BALANCE AND CO-ORDINATION

Balance and co-ordination are important skills but as we age they tend to diminish.  Pilates incorporates exercises to challenge your balance and help maintain and improve it.  A strong core will also play a major role in maintaining poise and balance.

INCREASES MOBILITY AND FLEXIBILITY

When an area of the body is tight or weak, it can affect the entire body.  For example, if the front of the shoulders is tight, it can cause the upper back to round and the neck to tilt forward.  This condition restricts mobility and decreases motor skills because the head is not completely upright, causing stress in the neck and shoulders.  The same can be said for other areas of the body.  The lower back and hamstrings are two other common places where lack of flexibility can cause issues such as pelvic tilt disorders and back pain.  In order for the one side of the body to lift, contract or stabilise, the other side must elongate and stretch.  Pilates exercises help to re-balance the body and lengthens the muscle fibres, gently strengthening, lengthening and stretching the muscles.

HELPS TO RELIEVE STRESS AND TENSION

Joseph Pilates who developed Pilates worked on the principle of using fewer, more precise movements requiring control and technique.  This demands more concentration and as you need to keep focused when practising Pilates, it encourages the mind from whirring from one subject to another.  By the end of the session you should feel calmer in both mind and body.

How Pilates Can Help Improve Your Swimming

We all know that swimming is a form of exercise that can build aerobic capacity and help to improve strength and tone muscles without putting any pressure through the joints.   However, whether you’re a professional athlete or swim occasionally for recreational pleasure, Pilates can help you get the most from your swimming experience.

So what benefits can Pilates offer swimmers?

Develops a Strong Core

Pilates focuses on strengthening the core which integrates the shoulder girdle, trunk and pelvis.  A strong core is essential to give you support when moving all four limbs and will help to increase speed as well as prevent injury.   Pilates doesn’t just focus on the superficial muscles of the abdominals but concentrates on developing the deeper abdominal muscles called the transverse abdominus together with the muscles closest to the spine.  By learning to switch on these “inner” muscles rather than relying on the outer (global) muscles, swimmers can attain ultimate alignment and balance when swimming. 

 Improves Body and Movement Awareness

Effective swimmers need to be acutely aware of their body’s position and movement in the water to produce the most efficient swimming pattern possible.  The Pilates methodology raises awareness of the body’s movements so you can ensure the correct muscles are being engaged.

Improves Breathing

Swimmers can sometimes develop poor breathing techniques whereby they unnecessarily hold their breath or don’t fully exhale. One of the key Pilates’ principles teaches a relaxed, efficient diaphragm breathing technique which will help swimmers breathe effectively and increase stamina and endurance.

Improves Alignment

For swimmers, proper body alignment is critical as swimmers need to work with the water and the slightest misalignment means they work against it.  Pilates is a very controlled exercise regime that helps to rebalance muscles and bring your body into the correct alignment.

Improves Balance

Pilates restores natural posture through the practice of controlled functional movements thus creating better balance in water.

Improves Joint Flexibility and Motion

Pilates improves flexibility by gently stretching out the body and increases mobility through the joints.  This reduces joint restrictions enabling a swimmer to move more efficiently.

Increases Speed

A strong core will enable you to leverage your larger muscles to move through water more quickly and efficiently.

Prevents Injuries

When swimmers have a weak core, they tend to overcompensate by putting extra stress on their back and shoulder muscles and this can lead to injuries like muscle strains or rotator cuff tears. Pilates works on balancing these imbalances so you can maximize the power generated from your back, shoulders, and legs without overusing them to a point of injury.

So, if you are looking to improve your swimming performance, why not try Pilates?

How Pilates Can Help With Urinary Incontinence

There are several types of incontinence but the two main ones are stress and urge incontinence.

Urinary incontinence – the loss of bladder control – is a common and often embarrassing problem.  And whilst the condition can cause a great deal of stress, many people are too embarrassed to seek help to resolve the issue.

Stress Incontinence

This is when an involuntary urinary leak can occur when you cough, laugh, exercise (particularly jumping around!) or lift something heavy.

Urge Incontinence

This is when you have a sudden intense urge to go to the toilet followed by an involuntary leak of urine.  You may feel the need to urinate often, including during the night, or even after you went a few minutes prior.

So What Are The Main Causes?

Age – As you get older the muscles in your bladder and urethra lose some of their strength.  Changes with age reduce how much your bladder can hold and increases the chances of involuntarily urine release.

Overweight – Extra weight increases pressure on your bladder and surrounding muscles which weakens them and allows urine to leak out when you cough or sneeze.

Pregnancy – hormonal changes and increased weight can lead to stress incontinence

Childbirth – Vagina delivery can weaken muscles needed for bladder control and also damage bladder nerves and supportive tissue, leading to a dropped (prolapsed) pelvic floor.

Menopause – After menopause women produce less oestrogen, a hormone that helps keep the lining of the bladder and urethra healthy.  Deterioration of these tissues can aggravate incontinence.

Enlarged Prostate – Especially in older men, incontinence often stems from enlargement of the prostate gland.

Smoking – It is considered that smoking may increase your risk of urinary incontinence

Certain Foods and Drink – May act as diuretics stimulating your bladder and increasing your volume of urine.  Culprits tend to be foods high in spice, sugar or acid, caffeine, carbonated drinks and alcohol.

So What Are The Pelvic Muscles?

The pelvic muscles are a sling of muscles that reach from the back to the front of your pelvis creating a hammock effect that protects your internal reproductive organs, bladder and bowel.  They also assist in maintaining a pressure gradient that prevents the unwanted flow of urine.  The ability to engage the pelvic floor during the movements that often cause leakage can significantly decrease the amount of urine lost and save incredible amounts of embarrassment and stress.  Engaging these muscles has also been shown to help during episodes of urgency to buy you more time to scurry to the nearest 

So How Can Pilates Help?

Pilates is an exercise regime that was designed to develop a strong core.

In Pilates, the pelvic floor muscles are a natural muscular support when doing abdominal and core exercises.This is a firm and sustained engagement of the muscles where one is pulling the pelvic floor muscles in and up as part of exercises where abdominal muscles as well as other muscles are involved.  With a stronger core, comes a stronger pelvic floor which helps the muscles that control your bladder.  As a result, Pilates is becoming more popular as a treatment for stress incontinence.

High-impact exercise puts pressure and strains your pelvic floor muscles and can increase leakage.  So to strengthen your pelvic floor and to help relieve symptoms try adding Pilates to your exercise regime.