Benefits of Pilates
The benefits of Pilates are extensive. It has the potential to relieve pain, restore and increase joint mobility and build muscle flexibility and strength, and it is one of the most popular and effective exercise programs for many injuries including lower back pain and shoulder, knee and ankle pathologies.
The cornerstone of Pilates is controlled breathing. Pilates teaches diaphragmatic breathing focusing on full inhalations into the anterior, posterior and lateral rib cage and passive exhalations promoting relaxation. This type of breathing increases lung volume and blood oxygenation allowing more efficient delivery of oxygen and removal of waste from cells.
Pilates exercises are generally performed with optimal alignment of the spine. Pilates teaches you how to find, and maintain, a neutral spine position in both static and dynamic positions. This allows equal distribution of load through the spine reducing pain and risk of back injury.
Another important benefit of Pilates is spinal elongation and mobility. People who regularly practice Pilates show an increase in spine length and mobility in all directions of spinal movement. This also has the potential to alleviate pain in the spine.
One of the best-known advantages of Pilates is an increase in core strength and endurance as well as stability around the shoulder and pelvic girdles. This strength and stability creates more efficient movement of the limbs.
Pilates can also help build general muscle strength, tone and flexibility through various exercises targeting all the major (and minor) muscles in the legs, arms, back, trunk and chest.
The combination of breathing, effortless movement and exercise, which Pilates provides, plays a role in reducing stress levels as well. Reduced stress levels stimulate the efficiency of the immune system, calm the nervous system and create a general sense of wellbeing.
However, perhaps most importantly of all, Pilates is both challenging and fun and is a great adjunct to any exercise or rehabilitation program.