Living Healthy The Benefits Of Pilates

Blue Sky Pilates owner Mary Lutes works with a client at her studio at

2101 Trinity Drive, Suite A in Los Alamos. Courtesy photo

 

By Mary Lutes, PMA-CPT
Owner, Blue Sky Pilates

“My back pain is gone!” “I don’t have sciatica pain for the first time in years.” “I have my life back because of Pilates.” “I am skiing better now than I ever have.” All these statements are actual testimonials from my clients. I call these Pilates moments, and these moments are celebrated every day at Blue Sky Pilates. 

Clients are always coming into the studio exclaiming how Pilates is changing their lives. Entire NFL football teams are now using Pilates as part of their training program to help the players become stronger. Professional golfers use Pilates to improve their golf games. National basketball association players practice Pilates to improve their jumping abilities. Professional soccer players practice Pilates to improve their leg speed and agility. Professional baseball players use Pilates to increase their pitching speed, flexibility, and core strength. In fact, Pilates can help anyone do anything better. 

Pilates was developed by Joseph Pilates more than 100 years ago. Pilates designed these exercises while being held in an internment camp during World War I. After WWI, he came to America and set up a studio in New York and began teaching what he then called “Contrology.” Through the years his students taught more teachers who continue to share this method with millions of people. 

Pilates has now become the “go-to” exercise program that has a multitude of benefits, and can be practiced by anyone at any fitness level and any age. More than 10 million people in the United States are practicing it, and this number is growing every year. Pilates improves balance, core strength and flexibility. It absolutely eliminates back pain and other types of chronic pain. This method is being used for those with neurological illnesses such as MS, and stroke and heart attack victims are benefiting from this method. Many individuals who are recuperating from any type of surgery are using Pilates as a form of physical therapy. Veterans who have sustained injuries are also benefitting from Pilates.

There are different types of Pilates: Mat, Reformer, Trapeze Table and Chair. There are nearly 500 different Pilates exercises that can be performed on these different types of equipment, making the variety nearly endless. Anyone can use this equipment, from the very beginner to the super fit.

Obtaining a strong core through correct muscle activation is the basis of Pilates. Every Pilates exercise requires proper core activation. The core consists of the following muscles and muscle groups: pelvic floor, transversus abdominis, diaphragm, and the multifidi. The multifidi are small muscles that connect the vertebrae to each other, and can be felt on each side of the spine. The transversus abdominis looks just like a corset and decreases the diameter of the waist. This muscle is the deepest layer of the abdominal muscles and is attached to the fascia that surrounds the multifidi. 

The most amazing aspect of the transversus abdominis when contracted is that it pulls on this fascia creating tension. This tension makes the multifidi squeeze the spine creating a stabilizing force along the vertebrae. This action is all made possible by lifting the pelvic floor muscles, in a natural and gradual way. The pelvic floor is made up of muscles and soft tissue forming the “bottom” of the core. Lifting this group of muscles is achieved by pinching the ischial tuberosity (SITS bones) on each side of the pelvis. This causes a lift of the mesh of muscles that make up the pelvic floor. 

Watch a jelly fish move through water. This is the movement of the pelvic floor. When it lifts the pelvis is stabilized. As this lift occurs, the transversus abdominis is contracted and lifted, while the multifidi stabilizes the spine. The diaphragm is the top of the core. It lifts as the transversus abdominis contracts, forcing the air out of the lungs. And all of this strengthens the core. This entire process is completed with every exhalation during each Pilates exercise, creating a link between breathing and core stability.

The Pilates Method includes nine principles:

  • breathing;
  • concentration;
  • control;
  • centering;
  • precision;
  • balanced muscle development;
  • rhythm and flow;
  • whole body movement; and
  • relaxation. 

This amazing method of exercise also includes movement and alignment principles including: breathing, core activation, neutral spine, abdominal strengthening, lumbopelvic stability, strengthening and mobilizing the spine, scapular stability and mobility, correcting alignment, release work and stretching. Two long lists of principles, with a great deal going on in the body as each exercise is performed. A great deal to think about! Just remember this: Pilates works! This method can help anyone eliminate chronic pain, improve balance, and most importantly, help individuals learn how to correctly work from the core while at the same time strengthening this very important stabilizing part of the body.

To learn more, visit http://blueskypilates.com.