Pilates is a method of exercise that focuses on developing the core strength and flexibility of the body. It is a low impact exercise by nature that uses a range of gentle resistance exercises and stretches to strengthen and lengthen muscles as well as improving balance and movement.
Over the last few years in Ireland Pilates has grown in both popularity and availability. A main reason for this surge in interest can be put down to the fact that it is suitable for almost everyone, from athletes to the elderly. Furthermore, the benefits reaped from pursuing Pilates are plenty with a huge amount attributed to the advantages associated with having a strong and stable core.
To understand how a strong and stable core is beneficial for us it helps to understand what the core actually is. It is easiest to think of it as four muscle groups in a cylindrical shape. The first muscle is the TA – Transversus Abdominus, which wraps all the way around the abdomen and is connected to the spine providing the spine with protection. The next muscle is the MF- Multifidus which is a muscle of the lower back that helps to keep the spine erect improving posture. The PFM – Pelvic floor muscles, make up the bottom part of the cylinder and the Diaphragm is the top section of the cylinder or core. Together the four muscle groups work together to strengthen up and stabilize the core area. A strong core is like a strong foundation that allows the rest of our body to move more efficiently and in a safer manner which consequently reduces the risk of injury.
Through correct engagement of all muscle groups of the core outlined above you will soon be able to see and feel the difference this type of exercise makes to your body. The benefits can be seen in the improved posture alignment, reduction of back pain, protection of the spine and reduction in the risk of injury due to an increase in strength and stablility.
It is important to learn how to perform these core exercises correctly to stabilize and strengthen your trunk area and Pilate’s classes are the perfect way of doing so. During a Pilates Class you will learn how to properly engage your core through a variety of exercises and stretches. Many try to perform core workouts at home or on their own in the gym running the risk of poor or incorrect engagement of the core. Without proper instruction the exercises can be performed so incorrectly that they actually cause more damage than good.
Correct engagement of your core through core exercise should be taught and supervised by a qualified chartered physiotherapist to ensure a safe and effective undertaking of these movements.