The Pilates method of exercise has made its’ reputation as being a physical exercise modality that focuses on the strengthening of the core, the muscles that surround the spine. Evolving through a system he called, “Contrology”, Joseph Pilates created his technique from a genuine interest and belief that balance in mind, body and spirit are the makings of a strong, vibrant and healthy body.
Even back in the 1920’s, Joseph Pilates was keenly aware of the imbalances inherent in the day to day lifestyle being played out through the men and women of the early 20th Century. This awareness fueled his desire to expand his method of exercise in attempts to ward off the ill effects of modern-day lifestyle.
With the intention of expanding lung capacity, building strength, increasing coordination and flexibility and improving posture; Pilates developed a timeless regime of rigorous exercises to do just that. As I have personally experienced over 20 years using the Pilates Method to heal and balance bodies, I can attest the Pilates Method is ever expanding. One of the most common issues throughout our culture is discomfort of the low back.
In part, due to its’ ability to mobilize the hip joint like no other modality, Pilates proves to be an effective tool in minimizing imbalances leading to chronic low back pain.
If you notice the muscles that flex the hip joint, predominantly the iliopsoas, you will see attachments from the thigh into the pelvis and the lumbar spine. When the muscles that flex the hip and the hip joint itself, become inflexible from being in a fixed position or in a repetitive pattern, the spine becomes effected.
As in Dominoes, when one tile gets out of balance it affects the whole train. This is exactly what happens in the human body. When muscles become tight, inflexible, fixed or imbalanced… over a period of time the surrounding structures become altered in order to compensate. The tipping dominoes begin to spread throughout the body and imbalances manifest as pain and discomfort.
When it comes to the low back, how can the dominoes stay stacked and upright? One of the greatest gifts the Pilates Method brings us is the gift of flexibility. When done properly, the Pilates exercises are designed to be executed by moving from the deep, intrinsic muscles outward to the superficial or larger muscles. And, whether on the mat or on a piece of specialized Pilates equipment – balance, flexibility and stability are inherent.
Maintaining flexibility by thoroughly stretching the muscles of the thighs and hips, as well as moving the spine through all it’s ranges of motion, will keep the lumbar spine supple and legs mobile.
Reflecting on the premise that motivated its’ creator, through regular practice of the Pilates Method one can aspire to have improved posture, inner strength and stability, flexibility and strong lungs.
Guest Blogger Julie Klutinoty