Pilates: Mindfulness, Men & Injury Rehab

Monday, August 15, 2016

For years, pilates was considered an exercise regime strictly for dancers and Hollywood starlets.

However, as more and more people are realising, a much larger and more diverse group sees the benefits of pilates than previously imagined. Not only does pilates improve mobility and increase strength, it also helps you develop a body that is going to perform and age better, whether you are 20 or 60 years old.

There has been a lot of chatter in the media recently about mindfulness, and it is worth noting that pilates, with its emphasis placed on centreing, precision and control, is in itself a practice in mind-body connection. Whether you are a stay-at-home mum or a busy executive, a regular pilates practice allows you to carve out some “me” time—something that is often in short supply in our fast-paced, overscheduled lives.

Aside from those looking to gain a dancer’s posture and a Hollywood figure, who is pilates really for? Vanessa Pearce offers her expertise:

Anyone suffering from shoulder or neck pain: Pilates helps strengthen the small stabilising muscles around the shoulder joint and muscles between the shoulder blades to gently pull the shoulders back restoring a more upright stance as opposed to a slightly hunched, forward posture. Modern lifestyle does a lot to contribute to both of these conditions—consider the percentage of the population who has a seated, computer-centric desk jobs and the number of people who spend countless hours a day hunched over a Smartphone or iPad. It is also excellent for the individual with neck ache as pilates teaches you how to keep the head upright, not allowing it to drop forward, by strengthening the many muscles in the neck.

People with back injuries: As a rule,backs always benefit from strengthening the core as well as the small stability muscles along the length of the spine. This is where pilates exercises focus in particular; in every session, we aim to move the spine gently in all possible directions. It is also common after someone has sustained an injury or has some back pain, to unconsciously try to protect the back by not moving. However, gentle movement is encouraged because in everyday life we are bending forward, twisting, leaning etc, and through pilates we work to gradually build up the muscles around the spine to make these movements pain-free.

Men: Pilates is ideal for men because it can certainly be physically demanding and most men require this type of physical exertion in order to feel it's been a good session. It’s also great for men who play one particular sport, golf for instance, which can cause them to be very strong in their limbs but weak in the core muscles. Pilates does wonders to strengthen the core and as a result the body is better able to cope with the stronger global muscles. 

 


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