Pilates and how it works to build resilient, robust, mindfully-moving bodies!

How Pilates works:

Pilates is a form of exercise that conditions and tones muscles all over the body- particularly our core, which includes our gluteal and deep postural muscles. Pilates will develop strength, flexibility, control of movement and body awareness in a safe and efficient way.

How does this translate to me in my day to day?

Pilates provides a base of strength to our spinal and peripheral joints, which helps us to prevent injury through overload of a given joint/muscle. Our joints and muscles can become deconditioned over time, especially if we are not moving/loading our body regularly. This can leave us open to injury and more prone to aches and pains. Pilates builds resilience and leaves us feeling supported in everyday tasks, allowing movement to be carried out with less effort- creating energy in all other aspects of our lives.

Developing body awareness through movement:

Pilates focuses on form and correct technique to promote motor learning during each class. This will allow us to perform the exercise with greater ease and better technique the next time we do it. In this way, each subsequent class becomes that little bit easier and we begin to learn and relate through movement, which helps us to develop body awareness and coordination. So in this way Pilates is more than just an exercise class, it helps us to understand movement and exercise in a way that is mindfully engaged with how our body is moving. This carries through really nicely to all other forms of exercise by laying down the foundations of optimal, supported movement patterns.P

Tuning in to your body:

During the class we will begin to learn to tune in to the parts of our bodies that are working hard during a given movement, and which areas of our body might not be working as readily during certain exercise- generally needing a little more patience and work on. Sometimes it’s hard to recognise when certain areas are weaker, we may feel no exertion at all during a given exercise and think that we are flying through it- I’m guilty of this myself! It’s only then, when we are corrected and encouraged to do the given exercise with the correct form that we realise the true challenge of the exercise. Suddenly we can feel the target muscles of the given exercise truly engaging and ‘switching on’, rather than our favoured stronger muscles taking up the slack and doing the work of the weaker, disengaged muscles. This is why it is so important that we have small classes that are led by a movement professional or in my case a physiotherapist; someone who is used to observing movement day in day out, who can see if you are compensating with other areas of the body in executing a given movement/exercise. During a Pilates class (or any exercise for that matter) we need to be able to feel our muscles working, and identify when certain areas might not be doing their fair share of the work. In this way we begin to learn our own bodies and recognise when patterns of movement we are adopting to execute an exercise is not serving us optimally. When we begin to tune in to this, we can start to change our own patterns of movement, waking up and strengthening inhibited muscle ,groups and eventually creating a more balanced musculoskeletal system.

Eamon Wilson