By Jessica Petersen - Pilates and Group Fitness Instructor
As we age, some of us start to notice small aches and pains start to creep up!
Some bigger than others and some more nagging than others. Some aches and pains may come and go, or never go away and just lead to injury! The key is to get them to go away and stay away! Pilates is one exercise modality that can make this happen. Whether you’re battling tennis elbow, low back pain, or even more clinical issues like Osteoporosis, Pilates can help improve these ailments.
Common issues such as low back pain, stiff knees, weak wrists, a popping shoulder, or nagging tennis elbow are often fixed by increased flexibility and mobility. The beautiful thing about Pilates is it focuses on both of these with low impact and slow controlled movement keeping you moving without the fear of injury. Fast paced, quick movement can lead to improper form making us fearful of one false move. This fear can hinder our range of motion and ultimately not allow for growth in either to flexibility or mobility. Pilates focuses on slow, highly cued movement where you are able to achieve full range of motion. Over time this will allow for gains in flexibility and mobility. When joints are able to move through their full range of motion and muscles are allowed to lengthen with control we find those nagging pains start to go away or find relief!
Now, with more clinical issues such as Osteoporosis or arthritis, for example, range of motion, increasing flexibility and mobility are still very key, but you also need focus on creating strength! Developing or maintaining bone density and increasing muscle endurance is critical. Pilates is an incredible form of strength training for the body due to the low impact aspect and the ability to generate movement from the core relieving our big global moving muscles from all of the work and getting all the connective tissue in the body to aid in movement. During Pilates you will find “the shake” and this is the firing of that connective tissue, called fascia. The fascia surrounds our big moving muscles and in many exercise modalities does not get a chance to develop properly or at all. With the core generated movement in Pilates the fascia is able to grow and gain strength to support our bigger muscles. The entire body works so not just one muscle group bares the load which can allow for some surprising strength gains!
Breath is another key component in those strength gains! In Pilates the breath is used to give the body length both internally and externally. Greater strength gains have been found this way by handling load through a longer, lengthened position. In Pilates you will work with load that is proximal, or closer to the center of the body and also distal, or further from the center of the body. Working with load in these two different positions also allows for incredible strength gains that is developed and centered around core control. This is something that is forgotten about or many times overlooked in other modalities.
As a low impact exercise Pilates will increase your flexibility, your mobility and increase strength and muscle endurance. The gains from Pilates are gradual, but with consistency and practice will keep you moving free of pain and injury which is something we all strive for as we grow older!
The benefits of Pilates are endless and are a valuable addition to anyone’s fitness regime! Pilates can be extremely personalized depending on your goals. Pilates instructors are used to working very closely with clients to achieve specific goals and monitor injuries or nagging issues. If you are trying Pilates for the first time or are very familiar with the practice don’t be afraid to approach your instructor for guidance.
Take a look at the Paseo exercise schedule for Pilates or you can find the Mat Pilates classes under the Group Exercise schedule.