What you need to know folks.
The Abdominals. Pulling in the abdominals is fundamental to the Pilates method of exercise. This is done in order to stabilize the spine. In Pilates we promote a strong and stable foundation of movement by engaing specific muscles of the pelvic floor and all of the abdominal muscles in an efficient manner with the muscles of the back. It is essential that a qualified practitioner guide the client and provide feedback on the 'how-to' engage the pelvic floor muscles and other essential know hows. Special emphasis is placed on the deeper abdominal muscles such as the transverse abdominis, and the muscles of the pelvic floor. This area is often underdeveloped and not working equally with the overworked surface muscles such as the rectus abdominus and other mobilizers. A qualified practitioner will guide and provide feedback to the client on the placement, engagement and pertinent differences of the mobilizer and stabilizer muscle system.
Breath and Breathing. Pilates exercises require full breathing to oxygenate the blood, improve circulation, and more. The breath is without question the foundation of the Pilates movement. The breath supports the movement in this discipline. One challenge is breathing with the support of the contracted abs. Taking an inhale at the same time as pulling in the abdominal muscles may seem contradictory in the begining stages. In lateral breathing we breathe deeeply down the spine and into the pelvic region bowl while expandig the breath into the back and sides of the ribcage. It is very important to learn the difference and applications of lateral breathing technique and diaphramatic breathing.
Head Spine and Neck. It is important to allow for the cervical spine to continue the line that the rest of the spine. From neutral and cervical spine position the chin nods slightly in towards the chest. Here think of lengthening the back of the neck.
Pelvic Area. In Pilates there is focus on the lumbar spine (very low back) and the pelvic region i.e. imprint and neutral spine. The pelvic area holds the largest percentage of the bodys weight load and it is essential to understand completely the stability and mobility facts of this part of the body. People often struggle with the rib-cage and the pelvic area placement. In the begining it may be difficult to do both together. Through practice one will gain both stability and mobility.
Rib Cage Area. A goal of the rib cage placement is a neutral rib cage. Here the body flows in an efficient way. The rib cage is dirextly connected to the spine and the abdominal muscles. As the spine moves is is essential that the rib cage flows gently. With that, when the spine extends or moves up behind the hips the ribs should gently open up. On the other hand, when the spine flexes or moves down slight forward of the hips then the ribs shall gently close in and down upon the abdominals. It is essential for the abdominal muscles to maintain commection. If this connection is lost than the spine has no support.
Scapular Area and Movement. The scapulae or the shoulder blades are unique! The shoulder blades are unique in respect of their attachment point. They do not have one! The scapulae lie on the back and have a lot of mobility due to the lack of attachment. Here, it is crucial to utilize certain muscles in order to stabilize the area. Often times, the neck and shoulders hurt. This results from not stabilizing the scapula area and the upper trapezius and other surrounding areas over work. Most often in Pilates method the shoulder blades are in a downward glide, moving or depressing, down the back. It is very helpful to maintain an opening across the front of the chest while depressing the blades. It is essential to stabilize the shoulder blades throught the Pilates method. This particular basic move allows for full-body method. In the gym just the arms or legs are worked. In the Pilates method the extremeties may be moving toward and away from the center of the body. In Pilates optimmum movement is achieved by employing all of the basic principles in any one move. It is essential to work with a Pilates practitioner in order to learn what your natural positions of the shoulders, spine, rib-cage and the neck. Important to note, while strengthening the shoulder area there are muscular stabilizers. A Pilates practitioner will assist with naming and connecting with them.
AREAS OF CONCENTRATION
Pilates can be learned and practiced by young, middle-aged, and older adults too.
Pilates is excellent for the professional and amateur athlete specifically sport enhancement and injury prevention. Pilates also an ideal tool for children and teens while enhancing self esteem, focus and resiliance. The Pilates method is modifiable for any fitness level. With that most anyone may enter this program. The Pilates method makes for a safe actively aging program for the older adult. Note that many forms of exercise are hard on the joints and body. Pilates reduces the impact on joints and ligaments, in turn, reducing overall stress on the body system while improving balance, coordination and greatly reducing age-related injuries such as slip and fall.
The Pilates Athlete
Pilates has become a popular way to exercise for Athletes. Pilates is used in sport enhancement, injury prevention and rehabiliation of Athletes. Professional Athletes use Pilates to develop stabilizer muscles, deep tissues which enhance strength, flexibility while increasing an Athletes range of motion at and around the joint. Important to note, increasing an athletes range of motion at and around the joint greatly reduces risk of injury. Pilates sport enhancement generates greater force exertion enhancing an Athletes strength. Pilates low-impact does not induce inflammation or overuse syndromes.
Professional athletes, Carson Palmer, Olympic Gold medalisits Kerri Walsh, Misty May Treanor, American NFL football players, baseball, basketball, wrestling programs, to name a few, are taking to the Pilates method to strengthen deep-stabilizing muscles, increase range of motion at and around the joint specfically for injury prevention to enhance focus and greatly enhance sport performance. According to Carson Palmer, "Pilates helps him after games when he is very sore, ...after a game I do not feel like doing weight bearing exercises ...Pilates provides a unique way to work out and has gentle-non-weight bearing movements and easy on the joints."
PILATES OLDER ACTIVE ADULTS
Pilates for the older adult emphasizes slow, controlled movements that are easy on the joints which reduce risk of injury. Many forms of exercise are hard on the body of the older adult. This Pilates program builds bone density, improves flexibilty & balance.
Pilates helps with a variety of age-related ailments. Arthritis sufferers benefit as a result of the mid-range movements which decreases the chance of the joints compressing while maintaining the range of motion around them. Pilates benefits those whom suffer from osteoporosis or stenosis.
The unique and simple Standing Tall Pilates series enhances bone density throughout the spine and hip greatly reducing risk for slip and fall accidents. Pilates programs are shown to slow and even reverse the harmful effects of debilitating diseases such as parkinsons and multiple sclerosis. Pilates specific movements assist in rigidity of moves while increasing flexibility, balance and coordination. This Pilates program centers on stability and balance at the midrange of the body rather than the extremities (arms & legs) reducing risk of injury. Pilates is an excellent program to be used after most surgeries.
PILATES ON CANCER
LYMPHATIC SYSTEM & IMMUNITY
Pilates is gentle, restorative exercise activity; an ideal partner for cancer survivors. The method develops mind, body and spirit. Pilates may begin at any point and practiced throughout your entire life. According to the American Cancer Society, "cancer surviviors should avoid inactivity and return as soon as possible to normal activites after surgery, during radiation and adjuvant treatment." Strength training, like the Pilates method, is recomended at least twice a week.
Why Pilates? A growing body of research suggests exercise greatly reduces the risk of breast cancer recurrence, enhances functionality and quality of life. Further, Pilates aims to strenghten the core, effortless movement and repattern musculature.
Pilates can be practiced in many ways. Any exercise can be modified for any level. Practicing pilates greatly improves overall body morall and focus. There is a life-long focus on the breath and breathing. This steep learning curve in the Pilates program yields the greatest rewards. The deep, diaphragm, breathing practiced in the Pilates method eases tension carried throughout the body (rib-cage) and enhances lymphatic drainage. Pilates improves post-surgery where the nerves and muscles are cut. Pilates strenghthens the transverse region of the abdominals or commonly reffered to as the TVA. Many times woman are affected with bladder control problems, stress incontinence common after child birth and menopasue. Often cancer treatments induce menopause.
Part of Cancer recovery is the immune system which involves the lymphatic system. Here it is essential to maintain a high immune system via healthy life-style choices. The lymphatic system is part of the immune system. It is important to understand this system at any part of the cancer journey.
Pilates 4-Kids is fitness for the future! The Pilates program assists with improved test scores, enhancing positive self-image while increasing childrens abilities to make positive, healthy life-style choices and resist unwanted behaviors. According to Reuters, "Pilates is an opportunity for children to experience the mental, physical, emotional and intellectual benefits of exercies." Pilates employs both mind and body empowering young minds and bodies. Pilates has been proven to improve sleep patterns too.
Parents are looking to this Pilates program to set their children up for a life-time of making good choices in a healthy way of life. Note that a rigourous exercise progarm may not be beneficial for the young child and may even be harmful for children. One concern is the younger childs developing skeletal frame region. This Pilates progam progresses safelt with slow & controlled moderate exercises which strengthen postural muscles of low back, mid-section enhancing overall body awareness while imporving focus and concentration too.
In the Postnatal Pilates program time is devoted helping women regain a sense of awareness and appreciation for their bodies specifically the pelvis; a vital bridge in the body and the nucleus of life! A major goal is a sound and safe postpartum program to correct deviations, balance the musculautre and restore the body.
Mothers reconnect with your abdominal muscles safely and properly. Flat toned abdominals are the desire of many women and a goal of this Postnatal Pilates program. Regaining and acquiring a flat stomach and strong abdominals after giving birth can be a long journey which demands patience, persistence, correct form and safe progrssion. Taking the time to reconnect with your abdominal muscles after the bodily changes of pregnancy, stresses of labor, and demands of caring for a newborn, turning toddler, may be last on the to-do list. However, one of the most important things you will do for yourself, your child and your family is take to care of yourself after birth.
Do not ignore the importance of using exercise (the Pilates method) to facilitate your healing process specifically the abdominal and pelvic floor muscles. After giving birth we open ourselves up to complications now and later in life which include low back pain, pelvic instability, incorrect & painful postural deviations and urinary incontinence, to name a few. As much as looking good with a flat tummy at the root it is really about the correct healing of the abominal mucles to ensure you feel your best without pain and or discomfort.
A major focus of the Pilates method is postural muscle strengthening and balance. Pregnancy causes many postural changes including forward and rounded shoulders (kyphosis) an increase in the curvature of the lower back (lordosis) and a forward tilt of the pelvis. Such changes are normal and necessary during pregnancy growth stages. The muscles become over-lengthened, laxed leaving the low back shortened and tight, the pelvic floor muscles stressed, upper back over-lengthened and compromised. Each of these deviations are carried into postpartum period, and often exacerbated by holding, feeding, carting, rocking, picking up, setting down, leaning over throughout your day.