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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A strong core will enable you to leverage your larger muscles to move through water more quickly and efficiently.
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?
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.
This is when an involuntary urinary leak can occur when you cough, laugh, exercise (particularly jumping around!) or lift something heavy.
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.
Now that spring has finally arrived, it’s time to dust down those golf clubs, get outside, enjoy the fresh air and improve that game of yours. So let’s have a look at why so many professional golfers incorporate Pilates into their training session to help them improve their game.
Why do professional golfers such as Tiger Woods, Carin Kock and Phil Mickelson all practice Pilates?
A golfer’s body can be placed under a lot of stress through the repetitive nature of twisting the body on a drive or leaning over to pick up a ball. Golf revolves around repeating the same movements so over time the body can become imbalanced as some muscles become weakened and some overused. As a golfer it is very frequent to have imbalances in the shoulders, lower back, hips, legs or arms. As a result of this you could struggle with accuracy, stamina, muscle strains and of course the distance of your drive.
So how can Pilates Improve your golf?
Pilates is centred around strengthening the core of the body and most golf shots rely on the core. Practicing Pilates can improve the range of motion in your shoulders, back stability and hip rotation. All of these benefits are key to being able to stabilise your body and hit more powerful and accurate golf shots.
Pilates is designed to increase flexibility. More muscular flexibility and spinal mobility will lead to a greater rotation. More rotation will make an efficient and more powerful swing.
Pilates can improve concentration as it is one of the founding principles. Every movement involves you concentrating on exactly what your body is doing so improved concentration will allow you to get the most out of your game through better practice and an improved mindset out on the course.
Muscular injuries are very common for regular golfers as a result of repetitive overuse. Pilates can be used to create balance through the back muscles, abdominals, hips and shoulders to prevent such injuries. Having an increased flexibility and mobility through the core will also make your body more resilient to the force being put through it.
So Why Not Give It a Go?
Menopause is a time of change that can sometimes be confusing and a great challenge. 34 symptoms associated with the menopause have been identified! Some women are fortunate to sail through the menopause without any noticeable symptoms at all but most women will experience some symptoms although the duration and severity of these symptoms will vary from woman to woman. There are hormonal fluctuations causing hot flushes and night sweats, a loss of bone density, anxiety, depression and mood swings and everyone’s favourite – weight gain. These are just a few of the fun outcomes most of you can expect!
So What is the Menopause?
There are three stages :-
This typically begins several years before menopause when the ovaries gradually make less estrogen. Peri-menopause lasts up until menopause, the point when the ovaries stop releasing eggs. `In the last 1 to 2 years of peri-menopause, the drop in estrogen quickens. At this stage many women have menopause symptoms.
This is the point when it’s been a year since a woman had her last menstrual period. At this stage, the ovaries have stopped releasing eggs and making most of their estrogen.
These are the years after menopause. During this stage, menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes ease for most women. But health risks related to the loss of estrogen rise as she ages.
Here are some of the ways practicing Pilates on a regular basis can help.
Ease anxiety, depression and mood swings
Anxiety, depression and mood changes are hard to control, especially in peri-menopause. Pilates can boost serotonin levels. Serotonin is both a happy and calming hormone.
Relieves muscle pains
Pilates relieves pain and spasms by strengthening your muscles and endurance. It also improves posture and movement.
Pilates provides long lasting stress relief by calming the nervous system. It also regulates stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline. Pilates flushes out excess stress hormones with the help of your lymphatic system. It also relives tension in your muscles through gentle stretching and movement.
Helps to Reduce the Risk of Osteoporosis
During the first few years after menopause, you may lose bone density at a rapid rate, increasing your risk of osteoporosis. Postmenopausal women with osteoporosis are especially susceptible to fractures of their spine, hips and wrists. Pilates helps to maintain bone density and it also helps to sustain stability in your movement which in turn can prevent falls and accidents.
Helps to Prevent Urinary IncontinenceH
As the tissues of your vagina and urethra lose elasticity, you may experience frequent, sudden, strong urges to urinate, followed by an involuntary loss of urine (urge incontinence), or the loss of urine with coughing, laughing or lifting (stress incontinence). You may have urinary tract infections more often.
Pilates helps to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles which may help relieve symptoms of incontinence.
Skin strength and elasticity can also be improved through Pilates. Exercise has been shown to stimulate collagen regeneration in the muscles and bones. This is an extra benefit for menopausal women.
Boosts Hormone Production
One of the most important Pilates benefits in menopause is its ability to stimulate hormone production. Pilates improves blood circulation and keeps your glands (like the ovaries) working well. With its anti-stress effects, Pilates prevents cortisol from stopping estrogen and progesterone production.
Gives you stability and balance
Aging makes our bones and muscles weaker. As a result, we become stiff and inflexible and this disturbs the alignment of our bodies. It also leads to more body aches and pains. Pilates strengthens your core which improves your balance and gives you more stability in your movement.
Improves your quality of life
More than its ability to help you with physical fitness, Pilates puts both mind and body in sync. For this reason, it can greatly improve your quality of life during menopause.
The menopause is a time of great change, but Pilates can result in more energy and confidence, less stress and a drop in hot flushes, fatigue and other related symptoms.
Most Mums lead very busy lives trying to juggle caring for their children, working and running the home and probably don’t put enough time aside for themselves. So why not consider giving your Mum a well deserved break with the perfect gift of a block of Pilates classes? This will not only help her to relax and unwind but will also help her to feel healthier and fitter.
She could start the day with a Pilates class to help boost her energy levels or take part in a Pilates class in the evening to help wind down at the end of the day.
And if you’re looking for a way to spend some quality time with your Mum, why not join too? A great activity for mothers and daughters or sons to bond with each other or for mums and dads to participate together.
As well as the physical and mental benefits, joining a group class offers the opportunity to socialise and make new friends.
So What is Pilates?
Pilates is a
physical fitness system that was developed in the early 20th century by Joseph
Pilates. He preferred fewer, more precise movements, requiring control and
technique over increased repetition. He believed mental and physical health
were essential to one another, creating what is a method of total body
conditioning. Pilates uses correct alignment, centring, concentration, control,
precision, breathing and flowing movement (the Pilates principles) to establish
a perfect working body from the inside out.
Unlike some forms of exercise, Pilates does not over-develop some parts of the body and neglect others. Pilates classes build strength, flexibility and lean muscle tone with an emphasis on lengthening the body and aligning the spine, rather than on bulking and shortening of the muscles.
Who Can Do Pilates?
Whether you are a
senior or just starting to exercise, an elite athlete or somewhere in between,
the foundations of Pilates’ movement apply to you. Building from core strength,
focusing on proper alignment with a body/mind integrative approach makes
Pilates accessible to all.
The Pilates system allows for different exercises to be modified in range of difficulty from beginner to advanced. Intensity can be increased over time as the body conditions and adapts to the exercises.
Because of its core focus, Pilates is popular not only in the field of fitness, but also in rehabilitation. It can be used to progress individuals through movements that represent their day-to-day activities. The focus on strengthening the core and improving postural awareness can help to alleviate the prevention of back, neck and joint pain
What Are The Benefits of Pilates?
- Improves posture
- Develops a strong and efficient core
- Helps to relieve stress and tension
- Improves overall muscle balance
- Creates long and lean muscle tone
- Increases flexibility (including the spine)
- Improves stability and motion of the joints
- Builds better balance and co-ordination
- Helps to maintain and improve bone density
- Increases body awareness
So don’t procrastinate any longer, go ahead and treat your Mum to the perfect gift of Pilates for Mother’s Day.
So you’ve over indulged at Christmas, put on a few pounds and now you’re having that internal pep talk about getting healthier and fitter for the New Year. So why not include Pilates as part of your exercise programme? Pilates has exploded over the last few years with millions of people discovering the benefits of Pilates and its popularity is still growing. Why? Because it is a gentle, controlled system that strengthens the core, improves posture, stabilises the joints, improves flexibility and stretches out the entire body. From a complete beginner who has never exercised before, through to a professional athlete and everyone in between, Pilates can benefit you.
So, here are some of the benefits Pilates can offer:-
Great for Killer Abs and Core Strength
Pilates really hits your core muscles as it focuses on the deep as well as the superficial abdominal muscles and has effects on your lower back, bottom, hip and pelvic muscles. A strong core will improve your balance and enable you to move more efficiently with less risk of injury and will help with your everyday tasks such as carrying heavy items and picking up your shopping.
As well as helping you to better your body frame, core training also helps to achieve those flat abs that we all crave for.
Improves Your Posture
Poor posture forms as a result of bad habits such as slouching at your desk which can eventually cause backache, neck ache, headache, etc. The bad habits will result in asymmetrical muscle development where some muscles are weaker than others. Pilates can help to strengthen those underdeveloped muscles and get rid of bad posture.
It’s a Good Workout for your Entire Body
Even though the main focus is on your core strength, Pilates also plays a part in developing a full-body workout. It ensures that no specific muscle is overdeveloped or under developed, elongating and stretching your muscles and giving you that perfect lean body you are looking for.
It was Joseph Pilates who said: “true flexibility can be achieved only when all muscles are uniformly developed.”
So rather than saying you can’t do Pilates because you are not flexible enough, you should actually participate in Pilates exercises to help improve your flexibility.
Places no Pressure on your Joints
Since Pilates consists of slow and controlled movement, there is minimal impact on your joints. This is naturally ideal for those who cannot (or do not want to) take part in high-impact sports and exercises.
Pain and bad posture can add to your stress levels and not only does Pilates help alleviate those problems, it also works to calm you. As Pilates focuses on breathing, you become mindful of your breath, of your body and muscles, and it becomes like a form of meditation. You’ll enjoy better sleep once you start doing regular Pilates, partly because it is calming but also because your body isn’t full of physical or psychological tension.
Improves your Sports Performance
Many sportsmen and women find that their bodies are misaligned due to the one-sided nature of certain sports e.g. swinging a tennis racquet or golf clubs. As Pilates helps to balance your body, develop muscular symmetry and align your posture, sportsmen and women find that Pilates can help to reduce the likelihood of injuries.
Pilates is for Everyone
It doesn’t matter if you are young or old, fit or out of shape, flexible or not, Pilates is an exercise regime which can benefit everyone.
So why not start the New Year by joining a regular Pilates class?
So the Christmas season is upon us again. Christmas fare is on the shelves (is it getting scarily earlier each year?!) Michael Buble is out of hibernation and our diaries are filling up with places to be and people to meet. And Christmas should be about spending time with the people we love and making special memories.
Most of us will put off thinking about getting fit until the New Year. In fact the most common New Year’s resolution is “to get fit and lose weight”. But why wait until January? Why put off tomorrow what you can do today? If you start now come January it will already be part of your routine and will seem a whole less daunting.
If you are wondering what exercise regime to adopt why not consider Pilates? Pilate classes will not only reshape your body but will help to improve strength, flexibility, stability and posture and is a great way to relieve any unwanted stress and tension. Just what you need to help prepare you for the busy Christmas season.
Pilates was developed by Joseph Pilates and one of his famous quotes is
“In 10 sessions you will feel the difference, in 20 sessions you will see the difference and in 30 sessions you will have a completely new body”
Starting a course before the January rush will see you well on the way to achieving your goals.
So Who Can Do Pilates?
From first time exercisers to professional atheletes/sports enthusiasts. Pilates is popular not only in the field of fitness, but also in rehabilitation. Pilates is often recommended by medical specialist to help patients recover more quickly from an injury or operation and is especially recommended for those with back and joint problems.
The Benefits of Pilates
- Improves posture
- Develops a strong and efficient core
- Improves overall muscle balance and creates long and lean muscle tone.
- Increases flexibility including the spine
- Improves stability and motion of the joints
- Helps to relieve stress and tension
- Builds a better balance and co-ordination
- Improves sense of well-being
- Helps maintain and can improve bone density
So, what are you waiting for? Join a Pilates course now.
Have a Very Happy, Healthy and Stress Free Christmas!
If you have lower back pain, you are not alone. About 80 percent of adults experience low back pain at some point in their lifetimes. It is the most common cause of job-related disability.
With an epidemic of lower back pain, treatments such as Pilates are becoming increasingly popular to help prevent and manage pain and are recommended by the NHS.
Pilates-based exercises have been increasingly incorporated into physiotherapy rehabilitation programmes to help with the management of lower back pain.
SO WHY IS PILATES CONSIDERED SO EFFECTIVE?
- The neutral spine position taught in Pilates is considered to be the most functionally ideal or “perfect” posture for our bodies as it supports the least amount of loading and tension on the structures of our spine.
- The strong focus on strengthening the core also supports the muscles of the spine.
- Pilates will address postural asymmetries thus decreasing wear and tear resulting from uneven stresses on the intervertebral joints and discs.
- Pilates exercises help to address poor posture bringing your spine into the correct alignment.
- Pilates improves the mobility of the spine by treating each vertebrae individually, emphasizing sequencing of the vertabrae to stack on top of each other one by one in correct alignment. This focus on mobility, along with exercises that improve the stability of the abdominal and back muscles, works to prevent low back joint stiffness and muscle tightness.
- Pilates improves strength, flexibility, and suppleness of the muscles of the hip and shoulder girdle. Fluid and supported movement through these joints helps prevent unnecessary torque on the vertebral column.
By implementing the Pilates principles into your everyday life, you begin to fix the problem at the cause, rather than only treat the symptoms. They can also prevent injury as you will learn how to engage your muscles correctly to support your trunk and to move more efficiently and safely.
As with all exercise regimes, if you have lower back problems you should consult a medical professional before taking up Pilates.
Can Pilates Improve your Cycling Experience?
A resounding YES! Why? Because Pilates methodology focuses on building a strong core, improves balance, posture and alignment and helps stabilise through the joints, all of which will have a profound effect on your cycling experience.
When you start to tire, your form is lost and your body starts to sway from side to side using more energy to move and you start to slow down. On the other hand if you have a strong core, you are able to hold yourself steady for much longer and therefore cycle further and faster.
A strong core will also help you with your balance, something that is beneficial for all levels of cyclists to help maintain your safety.
Correct alignment will help ensure you do not twist your ankles or knees helping to prevent injuries.
Many cyclists suffer with neck and upper back problems from being hunched over a frame for long periods of time as this not only increases the load on the arm and shoulders, it also hyperextends the neck. Tight hip flexors and hamstrings is another common problem. The lower hamstrings at the knee, remain bent. This can lead to a tendency for the lower portion to become shortened and tight. Cycling causes your pelvis to tilt forward, pulling your glutes out of alignment and forcing you to rely too much on your hamstrings, quadriceps, and lower back. Poor spinal health is common in young cyclists and often due to bad posture (on and off the bike) and injury. If you favour one side of your body or the other due to injury or poor posture, your back eventually takes the strain. An imbalance in the spine will cause overuse of the lower back.
Pilates can help rebalance your muscles gently bringing your body back into alignment and indeed improving it. Pilates is a low impact and sustainable form of training that helps to correct postural instabilities caused by cycling returning the body to its natural state.
So why not give Pilates a go and see how it can help improve your cycling experience?
What do Andy Murray, Roger Federer, Serena and Venus Williams and Martina Navratilova have in common aside from the fact they are tennis champions? They practice Pilates! All of them incorporate Pilates into their training programme.
Andy Murray states that Pilates is a vital part of his fitness and injury-prevention regime. Martina Navratilova although now retired says that Pilates has helped her body regain the flexibility of her prime. Serena Williams has stated that she believes it’s Pilates that’s given her a leaner less bulky body.
A good tennis player needs to be flexible and agile and possess a strong core to enable you to make those sudden directional changes. You also need stamina, power and range of motion. All of these qualities will help you move more effectively around the court and tire less quickly reducing the risk of forcing other muscles to overcompensate.
The nature of the game means that you repeatedly use one side causing muscular imbalances which in turn can lead to injuries of the shoulders, back, knees and elbows.
While even the best Pilates instructor may not help you serve like Serena Williams or Roger Federer, a programme of specific exercises will work the body more uniformly to prevent over development of one side. It will also strengthen the deep abdominal muscles (tranverse abdominus) needed for a stable base from which to hit that winning shot. Addressing flexibility through the shoulders and upper back while lengthening the tighter front muscles of the torso will boost your power and range of motion – and make it easier to reach for that drop shot at the net.
So the Benefits of Pilates for Tennis are:-
- Improves the power of your strokes by developing a strong core
- Improves your balance and control for quick reaction and sudden directional change
- Rebalances muscles to help prevent injuries
- Strengthens shoulders and arms to improve the speed of your stroke
- Improves flexibility and stability to control shots
- Reduces back injuries by increasing flexibility
- Increases upper and lower body strength and endurance
With its focus on core strength, flexibility, stability and balance, Pilates is a great tool for tennis performance. So why not give it a go?
As we move further into the digital world, we are spending more time sitting down and staring at a screen and this is having a profound affect on our bodies and in particular our necks, shoulders and backs.
Around 80% of us will suffer with back pain at some point during our lives.
As we get older degenerative conditions increase and can often become more noticeable from the age of 45 but now these conditions are starting to appear a decade earlier than seen a generation ago.
Two of the main neck/back problems that stem from sitting at a desk or using a mobile phone, tablet or laptop is Forward Neck and Kyphosis.
Forward Head is when the neck and head is in a forward position where the head is extending out past the shoulders. This is because more and more we are bent over our mobile phones or laptops all day causing our neck to tilt forward. This can cause tension, stiffness or pain in your neck, shoulders and back.
Your neck is designed to stay vertical to support the weight of your skull which weighs around 10 – 12 pounds. Every inch your head falls forward adds another 10 pounds of stress to the neck, shoulders, back and spine.
Therefore, our obsession with checking our mobile phones alone is causing an enormous amount of stress on our bodies, with symptoms including:-
Neck pain Upper back pain
Shoulder tightness and pain Chronic headaches
Abnormal curvatures to your spine
Kyphosis is a common condition that results in forward rounding of your upper back region. This causes your spine to hunch over and make you appear to be slouching.
Kyphosis can be seen at any age and can start to develop through sitting incorrectly at your desktop over your laptop.
If you suffer from Kyphosis, you may be experiencing back pain and stiffness.
Aside from taking periodic breaks from your electronic devices, sitting up straight and holding your electronic devices at eye level as much as possible, what else can you do to help alleviate and correct these conditions?
Pilates is often recommended by medical professionals to help with poor posture and back pain. Why? Because Pilates promotes and teaches neutral spine, alignment and core control. When these skills are adopted and good postural habits attained, you are able to function more efficiently. Postural problems can often lead to joint problems and muscle imbalances, causing flexibility, strength and mobility issues. Pilates help to correct these problems. This in turn can improve your quality of life. How often do we think about how we stand or walk? Would most people understand what neutral spine or the plumb line is? Pilates teaches these skills to retrain our bodies to stand and move more effectively.
If you are suffering with neck, shoulder or back pain then Pilates can help. However, it is advisable to seek medical advice before attending a class.
Think Pilates is just for women and too light-weight for you? Think real men don’t do Pilates? Think again. Pilates is becoming increasingly popular among men and here are some of the reasons why.
ENHANCES SPORTS PERFORMANCE
Many premier league football and rugby teams including the New Zealand All Blacks (and you can’t get more macho than that!) include Pilates in their fitness programme. In addition, tennis players such as Andy Murray, golfers such as Rocco Mediate, the English Cricket team and many professional athletes all incorporate Pilates into their routine. Why? Because they recognise that Pilates focuses on developing a strong core, improves posture and balance, stabilises and strengthens the joints, improves flexibility and rebalances muscles. This in turn helps them to move more efficiently and helps prevent injuries. For example, football demands rapid directional changes often at near maximum pace. It’s important to have a strong core and agile physique to cope with those moves. Pilates therefore helps to prevent injury and optimises performance. It also speeds up post match muscle and joint recovery.
DEVELOPS A FLATTER STOMACH
Men are more likely to develop fat around their abdomen than women often leading to the “beer belly” effect. Doing lots of crunches in the gym often involves engaging the superficial muscles of the abdominals only whereas the Pilates methodology teaches you to engage the deeper transverse abdominus muscles and works the muscles closest to the spine. Control of the core is achieved by integrating the trunk, pelvis and shoulder girdle. So not only does this encourage flat abs but it helps to create a centre you can move efficiently from.
HELPS TO ALLEVIATE BACK PAIN
Those core muscles which Pilates targets so perfectly can help alleviate back problems and many health professionals recommend Pilates for that reason. Pilates also focus on correct alignment of the spine so improves posture
Men are generally less flexible than women but Pilates can help to improve your flexibility which in turn will help to prevent injuries and increase your range of motion. Generally speaking, the more bulk you have the less flexible you are and Pilate moves will help stretch those muscles.
ENHANCES YOUR GYM EXPERIENCE
Adding Pilates to your training could see you getting fewer injuries and lifting more weight. Why? Because Pilates concentrates on building a solid trunk which will support your body more effectively. Working out in the gym you tend to concentrate on the main muscles of the body and sometimes over-develop some parts of the body and neglect others. Pilates classes build strength, flexibility and lean muscle tone with an emphasis on lengthening the body and aligning the spine, rather than on bulking and shortening of the muscles.
CAN ENABLE BETTER SEX
Pilates strengthens the core and the pelvic floor, and men who practice it have greater control of this region of the body–need we say more?
The best news of all for men is that you don’t have to be a sportsman, professional or otherwise, to enjoy the benefits of Pilates. So why not give it a try?
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