There are so many benefits to incorporating Pilates into YOUR LIFE! You have probably heard it is low impact, good for the joints or aids in back pain. Most of us know Pilates as the CORE STRENGTHENER! We hear how it strengthens our “core” muscles but few people understand how to actually use their core or what the heck it truly is. Many of us don’t realize that having a strong and properly functioning core can keep the rest of the body operating more efficiently for us.
The human’s core muscle group consists of the diaphragm (the breath), the pelvic floor (the muscle group that lies at the base of the torso), the transverse abdominis (the deepest layer of abdominal muscles) and multifidus (the deep muscles that run up the spine). A lot of us don’t care to know the anatomy of our core, but having a general sense of what muscle group you are working is key to proper use of your core.
Our core muscles lie at the base of the torso and surround the spine to support the skeletal structure. Think of your body as a house. A house can be gorgeous on the outside yet if the foundation is weak that house will soon crumble! Remarkably, the same is true with our bodies. Our core literally is the foundation to our house; our body we live in. We start to see problems with our body when our core is weak. Foot problems, knee complications, back pain, incontinence and even shoulder girdle issues occur when our foundation has been neglected too long! On the contrary a healthy strong foundation promotes good posture, deeper breathing, spinal stability, healthy sexual functioning, continence control, proper gait (walking), ease of movement and greater mobility of the joints. Yes, finding your core can do all this for you.
I teach my clients how to breathe properly, use pelvic floor, and engage the deepest abdominals. In dedicated clients, this work carries over into every aspect of their lives, not just during their workouts. So I hear feedback such as, “when I was gardening this weekend I remembered to engage my core before lifting, and my back wasn’t sore the next day.” Soon enough, this becomes what we call muscle memory and we don’t have to think every time we do an action, our core engages first!
Training your core takes work as does anything worth your time, but no matter your age or fitness level you can and should train and strengthen your core. When seeking out your Pilates instructor, make sure they don’t skip out teaching you all four core muscle groups. You wouldn’t buy a house missing part of the foundation would you? And remember friends, we build real strength and beauty through a process; working from the inside out.
Benefits of Pilates:
-Builds strength, flexibility & coordination
-Develops long and lean muscles
-Emphasizes low-impact, partial & nonweight bearing exercises
-Effective for all fitness levels
-Proper spinal movement & joint mobilization
-Diaphragmatic breathing emphasized to increase spinal alignment, improve circulation & oxygenation of total body
-Fluidity, grace of motion & balance
-Improves athletic performance - methodology adapts to specificity of the athlete/sport
-Excellent & gentle for pre-post surgery, pre and post-natal