Each week we see at least 5 new patients who feel they are doing all they can to get back to fitness but through one thing or another they keep hitting a wall. This week I spoke with a lady, lets call her Joan, who had been going to the gym, following advice for over 6 weeks but wasn't seeing the results she wanted AND was starting to get sore from the exercises. She had tried an aquafit class and ended up needing to take a few days off after it as her back had flared up. When we looked deeper into Joan's movements and what was really going on, she had most certainly ended up with flaring up her back, BUT the core issue was ...the core! Her body wasn't getting the support it needed to get the max out of her regime. So, when she started to increase and up the difficulty her body couldn't cope. She was frustrated and worried at the thought she may have to give the whole thing up as she was starting to enjoy it!. So, whats the missing link?
Movement is good right?...Yes..
Better to be active than not?... Absolutely..
So why is my body getting sore then?...... You've likely just missing an important link in the chain.
So, one of those integral links can be pilates and we are often asked what is it? what good can it do for me?
Well lets talk about it and see if its something you think could help you.
Pilates has been around for almost 100 years would you believe, sometimes its well known and sometimes wemeet people who have no idea what it is. It was first brought to the world by a man called Joseph Pilates and it actually was really popular originally (and still is) among dancers to help recover and prevent injuries. People and clinicians then started to adapt it, as we do for all different types of problems and activities. Even the top tennis players, rugby players AND TV presenters (Which we know is not a sport:)) do it. I have been encorporating pilates into my practice for over 10 years and its been transformational! You will probably by now have seen that we go for in March and celebrate with a March MATness Challenge to bring the benefits of it to everyone, thats how much we see a difference with it. If you would like to join in follow this link to sign up- you can sign up at any time in March for anyone!). We have clients well into their 70s and 80s who are finding huge benefit from it and have never done it before. They love Pilates because it helps them have more energy, better balance, and improved strength and mobility. It allows them to participate in all the activities they love with more ease, and most importantly, significantly decreases the likelihood that their injury will come back.
So, here are six reasons why Pilates was a missing link in my physical therapy practice, and why it might be the missing link to YOUR life-long fitness as well.
Pilates helps prevent back pain.
Once you hit 40, your risk of back injury starts to go up, FACT. We often see folk who have recurrent pain, and niggles start becoming more than niggles and lasting for longer. In a lot of cases they have seen a few people, even tried massages and sometimes have followed a gym program BUT can't get rid of it completely without worry it might return with a vengeance. Pilates is known to be a safe way to regularly keep your back healthy AND keep that pain away. It focuses on strengthening your core BUT also doing lots of other things like keeping your back feeling mobile in all directions AND getting good quality movement- which is often a missing link in most 'back strengthening programs.'
Pilates WILL strengthen your entire body.
We say core, BUT to get the core right we need ' balanced strength'. So basically we work on getting the body to work togetherproperly so theres no 'altered forces' going through your joints and muscles- so, you are being efficient. Efficiency means you can not only do if for longer, you can do it better AND your body will be at less chance of injury and pain because it copes better and gets stronger not weaker. We often see people who can be strong, or 'go all day' BUT your muscles and your body isn't doing it in an efficient way so they end up with issues and problems down the line because some muscles are working harder than they should be. If you have a football team and only half are doing the job, you won't win the game And you'll have a grumpy team!!! Pilates coordinates, balances and strengthens muscles groups to make sure your goalie, mid fielder and full backs are doing the job when they need to and in the best efficient way. i.e. a balanced team leads to a balanced body
Pilates will help with flexibility. Many's a time I've had someone say they are worried because they were never able to touch their toes so will they manage in the class. What I love love love about pilates is its ability to help you stretch your body in a dynamic way, with movement. This makes it far more applicable to normal every day life. ....Do you need to touch your toes several times in the day? Probably not often but you DO need muscles to have the length so you can do your day to day without them struggling. If you get mobility, then you can work on stability which is a massive key to life long fitness and often not addressed when your trying to get back into activity or your trying to get more from your program.
One of things that makes pilates special (when its done correctly) is how it can persuade even the most arthritic joints to be optimised. So many of my patients have been told 'its just an age thing' for lots of problems and we have a culture of resigning ourselves to this being the answer to what can only lead to a bit of a downward slope and a lifetime of deciding if your back or joints will cope with something before you even contemplate doing it. The key to combating 'its just an age thing' is maintaining a mobile and well balanced body and joints. Did you know that Pilates puts very little stress on your joints BUT makes them work at the same time. When you get the best out of your joints and muscles your symptoms decrease making it so much
easier to do the things you love to do.
Pilates gets your nervous system in gear again!
Ah this is a crucial missing link for many folk. If you dont use it you loose it......Ever heard of that one? Well its the same for your nervous system. If you haven't been activating the right muscles in the right way, the signals that go to those muscles get a bit lazy. We often see people who have been doing something for a long time and then can't see why its sore to do when its never been sore to do! Pilates works on not only strengthening but coordinating the right muscles to work at the right time. Your nervous system needs to be on your side working for you when you need it and pilates trains it up to do that.
Its great for the mind! If you've ever come to one of our evening pilates, you will usually hear someone tell you they had a great night sleep after last weeks class. Now thats not because we had you up to all sorts and your body was tired, but its because of the effect its had on your mind. A lot of us struggle to combine sorting the body with exercises but also getting the brain in check to. Pilates helps your mind to focus on what its doing and by doing so calms a lot of the other stuff going on too!
So, after those reasons, if you’re not yet incorporating Pilates into your fitness or rehab routine — what are you waiting for? If you would like to find out what this March MATness is all about then sign up here. We will be sending you a FREE pilates exercise of the day (and some days we even have some bonus ones), along with exclusive offers! The fun started on the 1st of March but its never too late to join in.