Why Pilates is Amazing - Part 2: Awareness & BalanceNov 28, 2021
Last week we began our journey to find out what is Pilates exactly and why is it so amazing for our bodies. If you missed Part 1, you can find the article on the Pilates Life Studio blog.
We discovered that Pilates is functional fitness training. Pilates unique method re-trains the functioning of the entire body as exercises are designed to work multiple muscles at once - like real life.
We also discovered that the Pilates Method brings a new level of strength that begins on the inside and works from the core out to the periphery. It's a proven system to change the way our bodies moves and functions, helping every aspect of our lives.
We laid out that all schools of Pilates teach a set of principles that we can apply to our Pilates practice, but also to our daily life. Some schools omit or add certain principles depending on their focus, but this is the set I like best:
- Awareness (proprioception)
- Balanced Muscle Development
- Flowing Motion
Over the next few weeks in this weekly newsletter, we are having fun exploring each principle. Today we are diving into Awareness and Balanced Muscle Development.
AWARENESS & PROPRIOCEPTION
Let's begin with awareness. Without awareness of how our body is moving, change cannot occur. We all develop postural misalignments, incorrect movement patterns, and compensations over time. If we are not aware of these, we can't correct them. While we practice our Pilates exercises, it's necessary to stay in the present moment and feel how our bodies are moving. The cool thing about Pilates is we always follow a breath pattern, which helps us stay focused during the exercises.
Proprioception is described as our sixth sense, as it's the sense of self-movement and body position within space. Proprioception is mediated by our proprioceptors, which are mechanosensory neurons located within our muscles, tendons, and joints. Having strong proproception helps us with our balance and correct movement patterns, reducing the risk of injury and falls. We "strengthen" these proprioceptors every time we purposefully move and exercise.
What I love about the Pilates method is that the exercises are similar to physiotherapy exercises; building our bodies strong, correcting imbalances, and connecting the right muscles to fire while using bands, springs or lighter hand weights while moving with control, awareness, and increasing our proprioception. All my classes here at Pilates Life Studio (equipment, barre, mat) include my vast knowledge of exercise modalities with my multidisciplinary trainings of the Pilates method combined with physio exercises.
BALANCED MUSCLE DEVELOPMENT
Think symmetry of the body: a balance of stability and mobility. Painful musculoskeletal conditions often show patterns of imbalance in our body, meaning one side of our body is stronger/tighter than the other side may be weaker/looser. When this happens certain muscles are recruited excessively while others are underutilized. Often these imbalances are caused by the body using compensatory mechanisms to protect certain areas or try to reduce pain (for example: a pulled groin muscle brings about tight and overworked surrounding inner thigh muscles, leading to less range of motion around the hip joint which could bring about a compensation at the knee, leading to knee pain).
Each person has a unique set of imbalances, and these are almost always related to their previous injuries and/or dysfunctional movement patterns. A properly designed Pilates exercise program brings balance in our muscles safely and gradually as using the Pilates equipment helps support the body in the correct alignment. Because the loads of resistance are fairly light with both Pilates and barre compared to other modes of strength training the risk of injury is quite low. So the exercises in both Pilates and barre can help bring balance, coordination, healthy joint mobility, muscular strength and endurance, and core stability. I truly believe both Pilates and functional barre to be the BEST ways to train the body.
Phew, that was a lot of content! Awareness and Balanced Muscle Development are two very important pieces to explore within the Pilates method. Hope you enjoyed learning more about those concepts! Next week we will explore Breath and Concentration and how they apply to your Pilates practice.
Ready for change? Head to the Pilates Life Services and Pricing page to learn more how the Pilates method can help you reach your health and wellness goals.
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