Benefits of Pilates That May Surprise You
In the years since it became a popular exercise program, Pilates became known for giving participants lean and toned physiques. Yet, did you know there are plenty of health benefits to it as well? Other than the great aesthetic benefits, regularly practicing Pilates can help with bone density, back pain, and injury prevention. It’s a great way to cross train and mix up your regular schedule of lifting weights and cardio fitness. Those can’t be the only benefits can they?
Bone density is the amount of bone mineral in bone tissue. As humans, the peak time for rapid bone density growth is between the ages of 25 and 30. Because bone density decreases as we hit age 40, we must find ways to avoid bone loss over time. The more we can work to build bone density during our rapid growth period the better! Bone density can increase during our rapid growth period by moving our body parts against the force of gravity. Because Pilates is a low-impact, weight-bearing exercise program that is often practiced in the horizontal plane, it is the perfect technique to help build up our bone density. Pilates also helps to build muscle strength, which in general, will help to support the bones of the body.
Back Pain Relief
If you struggle with acute or long term back pain, adding Pilates into your routine might help. Pilates works to strengthen your core. While we may think the core only consists of our abdominals, it is actually so much more than that. Our core consists of muscles in the front, sides, and back of our body. The muscles in the front and sides of our core are the rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, external obliques, and internal obliques. The muscles in the back of our core are the multifidus and erector spinae (our back extensors). Building strength throughout the front, sides, and back of the core is imperative for proper alignment. The diaphragm is also an essential piece of the core, which we focus on when we practice breathwork in Pilates. Remember, a strong core aligns your spine which may relieve some of your back pain.
One of the best ways to prevent injuries is to exercise regularly and stretch often. In a regular Pilates session, your instructor will lead you into exercises that move your body in every single direction possible: flexion, extension, rotation, and lateral flexion. Your instructor will also keep an eye on your alignment, which is essential to performing the movements correctly. Because every movement in Pilates helps to strengthen and lengthen the muscles, it is the number one exercise program to reduce your susceptibility to injury.
Increase Your Flexibility
One of the most obvious benefits of a consistent Pilates practice is the increase in the body’s range of motion. The exercises in Pilates are dynamic stretches. Instead of stretches being held in a certain pose or position, the muscles are stretched through active movements. You will move in every direction possible creating longer and leaner muscles.
Are you sitting at a desk all day or have a long commute in the car? You may find that you slouch more than ever with your shoulders hunched and back curved. If you want to work on fixing your poor posture, it may be time to sign up for a Pilates class. Pilates helps to strengthen the postural muscles in your core, such as the abdominals and back extensors. In addition, Pilates helps to keep your pelvis in a neutral alignment. Each session works on building hamstring, glute, and pelvic floor strength. You will build positive lifestyle habits in each Pilates class making it the ultimate form of functional fitness.
Interested in trying out Pilates for any of the amazing benefits? Try one of Avenir-LA’s Body Tonic classes. Their Body Tonic class is designed to give clients equal amounts of time strengthening and lengthening their muscles with some time at the end for restorative and release work. Check out our “Classes” page to find which one works with your schedule and skill level.