How can pilates help me?
Brief background on pilates:
Pilates was created by a bloke called Joseph Pilates back in the late 1940’s early 1950’s and was originally called Contrology.
His idea was similar to a lot mechanists at that time in the belief that there was a perfect posture and that with a lot of control of the body one could achieve it.
Over the ensuing decades pilates was ensconced within the ballet and dance world but was largely ignored by the broader medical community.
That was until 2001 when a Queensland researcher called Professor Paul Hodges and his team published an article outlining the importance of ‘core muscle control’ in people with low back pain.
The pilates community rejoiced, validation had been achieved. Short courses were established, physiotherapists, osteopaths and more enrolled and pilates was reborn.
4 Professional tips to improve your Pilates practice
1. Pilates posture is NOT important!!
Jo Pilates based his idea of health and posture in being perfectly aligned, similar to the ballet dancers he worked with.
But as we now know this is both unrealistic and unimportant.
How do we know that?
Paralympians are a great example of the implausibility of posture being important.
There are incredible athletes at the Paralympics, they run, jump, sprint, swim and they have postures as wide and varied as is humanly possible.
And…. they are not all in pain.
Humans evolve individually and they adapt to the positions they are used to and have spent time in.
Most of us have a leg shorter than the other, a slightly twisted spine, a muscle that is bigger on one side when compared to the other.
The important thing with exercise, whether it is pilates or anything else, is that you challenge your body with a mixture of load, stamina and flexibility.
And that if something is sore you do not push it too much.
2. Identify a goal you are trying to achieve and reflect back on it regularly
Goal setting can feel a bit Tony Robbins-y but when it comes to exercise it makes it easier and more measurable when you can reflect on a goal you may have.
The body likes finding a groove that it is good at and so when we start something new we are often tired and sore afterwards.
But after a few months of doing the same thing we get used to that activity and the body no longer finds it challenging.
3. Don’t get stuck doing the same thing
If you have started pilates as a way to rehabilitate an injury sometimes you can get stuck for too long doing the same thing.
It is important to have a goal in mind so that you are continually striving to get back (or up) to the level you want to be.
4. Make sure your Pilates instructor is up to date!
As our understanding of pain science has evolved our understanding of the body has evolved commensurately.
Ideas like weak muscles (vastus medialis, transverse abdomens, glutes) were very popular in the naughties but research has largely dismissed them in recent years.
The challenge for instructors is to keep learning and not relying on what they learnt in the short course they did. Which applies to anyone in the health/medical field.