Monday, March 26, 2012

What can Pilates exercises do for you

Excerpts from WebMD article (and reiteration of Benefits of Pilates).

1. Body Awareness
"It is an education in body awareness..It teaches you how to train your mind and build symmetry and coordination in the body, And when you can get control of the little things, that's practicing willpower." says Pilates teacher Siri Dharma Galliano.

Aliesa George, a Pilates teacher in Wichita, Kan: "The biggest benefit in my eyes would be personal awareness -- awareness of how you sit or how you stand or how you move and being able to relate those habits to the aches and pains and injuries you have or have had in the past,"

2. Stronger Core
it's important not to equate a stronger core with a flatter stomach.

Aliesa George: "When people want 'flat abs,' they are usually looking for weight loss, not abdominal strength and core support,". "More than touting the benefits of Pilates for flat abs, we should be touting the benefits of Pilates for a stronger, healthy back and body. If along the way, you do the other components of fitness and trim the body down, yes, you're going to have a flatter midsection."

As you develop body awareness, stand straighter, and gain flexibility, "Pilates will shift your shape," so. "But just attending a group mat class may or may not change your body." says Siri Dharma Galliano

Kevin Bowen, co-founder of the Pilates Method Alliance and director of special projects, says it is important that abdominals are flexible, not just hard.

"A flexible muscle is a strong muscle," says Bowen. "A hard muscle may feel good and give an interesting look, but if you don't have the flexibility and the balance and the functionality that you need to allow your body to function properly, sooner or later, it's going to show up someplace else."

3. Body Control
Siri Dharma Galliano, who has sculpted the bodies of Madonna, Cameron Diaz, Sting, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Uma Thurman, says Pilates works because it teaches you how to move.
"Unless you are taught how to move and discover with your teacher what is blocking you (for example, keeping your shoulders up too high), you will never achieve body symmetry. When you start getting control of your body, it gives you a great degree of satisfaction."

"Pilates works the whole body in synergy," which is how we should be moving on a daily basis, says Little Rock, Ark., internist Hoyte Pyle, MD, who has been practicing Pilates for five years.

Apparatus or Mat?

Pilates himself rarely worked with groups. Most of his work was done one on one, so each person's exercises were tailored to meet his or her needs. But he used both mat exercises and equipment with his clients.

Aliesa George: "Pilates was developed as a system. "People will get the best benefits if they utilize it as a system, doing exercises on the mat and the equipment."

For someone who has limitations, equipment is a great place to begin, says Siri Dharma Galliano.
"The equipment was really designed to help people do the mat work. It supports them while they do the action, which is something they can't get in a mat class."

Bottom line? If you can afford it, teachers recommend doing both mat classes and work on the equipment.

Final Note
Some 50% of adults experience back pain at some time in their lives. At any given time, 25% of adults have acute or chronic back pain. But not all pain is the same, cautions Jupiter, Fla., physical therapist Michael L. Reed, DPT. Without a diagnosis for your back pain from a physician or health care professional, Pilates could do more harm than good, he says.

"You can't go to a non-medical practitioner that teaches Pilates and think that will resolve your back pain,"

"That's not necessarily to say that Pilates won't help" says Reed. He uses Pilates in his rehabilitation studio. Movement training is a sensible way to manage pain, and non-weight-bearing exercises like Pilates can be done even by those struggling with pain, he says.

However, he warns, "it's advantageous to have a better idea what may be generating their symptoms first."

As any well-trained Pilates teacher will attest, without a proper diagnosis for the pain, even the best instructor cannot design a safe and effective exercise program.

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Movement should be approached like life - with enthusiasm, joy and gratitude – for movement is life and life is movement, and we get out of it what we put into it.”

~ Ron Fletcher

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