7 Benefits of Pilates including Increased Flexibility and Stronger Muscles
I’m sure you have heard of Pilates from many of your favorite celebrities. It’s a fun workout class that involves bed-like machines, ropes, and mats. No, but really, Pilates can be a nice change to your normal workout routine and has amazing benefits for the body.
- Pilates comes in many different forms and can be done almost anywhere.
- There are many different types of Pilates to cater to individual health goals, strength levels, and equipment.
- Pilates helps to increase muscle coordination and mental concentration which improves overall bodily functions.
What exactly is Pilates?
Pilates was originally created by Joseph Pilates in the mid-20th century to help dancers recover from injuries. This low-impact workout incorporates eccentric, concentric, and isometric contractions which all work to strengthen and lengthen the muscles in the body. Pilates targets all muscle groups in the body through a series of precise and controlled movements. It also offers many different options for the type of workout you want to receive. Here are a few different types:
- Mat Pilates
Mat Pilates is great for starters in order to teach them the fundamental qualities of Pilates to help them advance. This type really only requires a mat and sometimes the option of free weights or resistance tools. A lot of the movements move the body back and forth and hold mid-position to strengthen certain areas of the body. Mat Pilates is also offered at gyms across the country, and there are thousands of online mat classes to take.
- Reformer Pilates
This type of Pilates incorporates a large bed-like machine made with a flat platform that rolls back and forth on wheels. It uses springs and resistance to achieve stronger and lengthened muscles. The springs on the reformer allow you to change the resistance and increase the level of intensity. You can definitely start out doing reformer Pilates, just make sure you go to a beginner's class and learn how to properly use the equipment.
- Classical Pilates
Classical Pilates incorporates a more non-stop sequence flow that starts with easy exercises and ends with more complex exercises. Instead of the reformer, classical Pilates uses different apparatuses such as the tower/wall unit, chairs, and toe and foot correctors. This practice also uses more mind-body techniques that place emphasis on creating a happier and healthier life.
7 benefits of Pilates
1. Increases core strength
Pilates does wonders for our cores. This is due to many of the movements within Pilates requiring you to hold your torso in place for certain positions. Mastering and holding these positions for a long time strengthens your body’s pelvic floor and increases overall core strength.
2. Improves posture
It’s no secret that we all could use a little bit of posture work. Implementing Pilates into your routine can help correct your posture and give you that straight back. According to a recent study, Pilates worked to enhance the angular positions of the shoulders, neck, head, and pelvis which all contribute to overall postural alignment.
3. Prevents injuries
Building a strong body allows you to be more resilient against injuries. Pilates is the perfect tool for creating strong muscles and more bodily awareness. The moves in Pilates help to enhance coordination that allows the body to move in a more graceful way to prevent injury. That’s why Pilates is so great for dancers because it helps increase their mental concentration while they’re doing their moves or routines.
4. Alleviates back pain
It has been found that around 90% of people will experience back pain in their life. Some common causes of back pain are prolonged poor posture, increased dependence on technology (so more sitting down), bad exercise habits, and many other factors. Regardless of the cause, experiencing back pain sucks.
However, through extensive research and trials, it has been found that Pilates can significantly help with reducing or even permanently fixing this pain. Pilates exercises work to realign the body and address any type of imbalance. A lot of the time back pain grows from a misalignment of the hips or legs, so doing Pilates can stabilize these areas.
5. Increases energy
The more you exercise, the more energy and endorphins you have! There are many different types of Pilates in terms of movements and intensity levels. The more stretch-based classes are similar to yoga in that they try to focus on the breath and really find that mind-body connection. This practice helps to increase cardiorespiratory capacity, which in turn increases energy.
6. Increases flexibility
Pilates focuses on stretching and lengthening the muscles, whereas strength training can have the opposite effect. The moves go through a range of motion within the joints that results in them being looser and more flexible. Flexibility is a healthy goal that will make moving through life a lot easier.
7. Builds stronger muscles
Pilates uses a type of muscle contraction called eccentric contraction. Eccentric contraction is when the muscles lengthen when resisting a force. Most of the time in Pilates, the resistance comes from the springs on large equipment on which you are usually moving back and forth. The resistance works to increase muscle strength and hone in on the weaker areas.
Put “take a trial Pilates class” on your to-do list if you are looking for new workouts. Pilates has many great benefits that work to improve your overall well-being. The great thing about Pilates is that it doesn’t just focus on the physical body, it incorporates practices to work on the mind as well.
Written by Emma Carlson
- Photo by Ave Calvar on Unsplash