10 Benefits Of Pilates

Pilates was developed by Joseph Pilates in the 1920’s and was intended as a physical fitness system called Contrology; it can be either aerobic or anaerobic and has specific breathing patterns. The objective at the time was to facilitate the rehabilitation of soldiers who were injured in WW1. It stabilized, strengthened, and stretched key muscles in the body.

His system emphasized economy of movement that would build and strengthen core muscles – which are the muscles in the torso – while lengthening and realigning the spine. His system has been widely used for rehabilitation and pain prevention and its focus on spinal alignment helps with posture. Since the focus is on strength and length, Pilates doesn’t add bulk to the muscles the way some fitness routines do. Rather, the muscles become longer and leaner, balance is improved, posture is more erect, and movement becomes easier.

Pilates improves blood circulation and increases the function of the lymphatic system so that metabolic toxins are more readily eliminated and overall health is improved. This type of training requires concentration in order to achieve a mind-body connection, so it improves focus and mental clarity.

Current estimates indicate that more than 12 million people worldwide use the system to improve their health, physical fitness, and flexibility. It’s used for rehab or prevention of injuries, and is appropriate for use by both men and women and by all age brackets. Another benefit of Pilates is that it can be performed on a mat or on equipment. Although it’s appropriate for both genders and people of all ages, those who are elderly or haven’t exercised in a long time should consult their medical professional before embarking on any exercise regimen. The workout may need modification for those with hypertension or labile blood pressure, a herniated disk, severe osteoporosis, or those who are at risk for a blood clot.

1. Improved Flexibility

Flexibility is defined as the range of movement of joints and muscles in the body. Pilates has several different exercises that specifically target the muscles that will improve flexibility. Those exercises include the mermaid, the swan dive, the roll down, and the spine stretch, as well as others.

Since the Pilates regimen emphasizes lengthening and stretching muscles, flexibility will improve in the back, hips, hamstrings, and both the front and sides of the body. Muscles surrounding the spine are also stretched, which contributes to flexibility while improving core strength. As these muscles are stretched and lengthened, the body becomes more oxygenated because blood flow is increased. This makes the fascia more pliable, which improves range of motion and flexibility.

The fascia is a web-like substance that lies directly under the skin and covers the entire musculoskeletal system of the body. Over time, it can become sticky and stiff, which the Pilates exercises can alleviate. When blood circulation is increased, the function of the lymphatic system improves. This means that the metabolic waste that’s constantly being created in the body will be removed more efficiently, which will decrease muscle stiffness. This is particularly important for the elderly, since muscles shrink and shorten due to the aging process, and the fascia can become stiff to the point that mobility is hindered.