Pilates, a concept developed by Joseph Hubertus Pilates, assumes that the way to perform exercises can have influence, both physically and psychically, improving self-knowledge and decreasing stress and anxiety.
Contrology defines that body movements should be controlled, paced and methodical. The exercises should be performed respecting the following fundamentals: concentration, control, precision, centering, breathing and fluidity.
Gradual exposure leads the individual to be motivated by gaining body awareness and muscle strength. If well conducted, the method can aid in pain control, recovery of functions and injury prevention.
The main benefits of regular Pilates practice are:
- Increased physical stamina
- Muscle strength gain
- Change in postural attitude
- Improved balance
- Defines the musculature
- Increased respiratory capacity
- Facilitates concentration and focus
- Gain flexibility and range of motion
- Improvement of body awareness
- Promotes relaxation and physical and mental well-being
For a good conduct of exercises is necessary that the person undergoes a detailed evaluation, able to identify and measure the positive and negative points of each one. Thus, it is possible to prescribe the exercises that will have the greatest impact on the body of the individual. The coach has the possibility to always consult the evaluation and the client sees the result in numbers.
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Pilates can be performed safely in various publics, pathologies and physical conditions. In the elderly people, for example, the fact that it is composed of low impact exercises and machines that facilitate movement, it becomes an excellent choice. The follow-up by a physiotherapist facilitates the identification of the risk factors and clinical aspects, helping in the best possible adjustment of the exercises, in favour of a better performance in the activities of daily living.
With the practice of Pilates, people with neurological and rheumatological disorders, as well as in a post-surgical process, can achieve gains in range of motion, strength and muscular endurance which results in reduced symptoms and increased day-to-day functions, reducing the rate of future disability.
Pregnant women also benefit from this method, which presents very low risk. The strengthening of the pelvic floor from specific exercises contributes greatly to an easier delivery and to a postpartum recovery.
There are also countless benefits for children through Pilates. Due to functional and playful movements, Pilates can be a great way to get kids out of inactivity, to work muscles in a conscious and balanced way, to improve concentration and posture. The age of 8 years seems to be the most sensible for the beginning of the practice.
Lastly, athletes (regardless of level) can take advantage of the Pilates method. Especially for working more consciously the more internal muscles, improving the body adjustment before the technical gestures of each sports modality, representing in turn a better effectiveness of the movement.
We now leave a basic sequence of exercises:
Fig.1 - BRIDGE
How to do: lying on your back, arms resting on the floor along the body, feet resting on the floor with knees bent. Inhale, exhale and activate the abdomen. Inhale and raise the hip slowly expiring. Try to feel your vertebrae, rising slowly, until the weight of the body is distributed over the feet and shoulders. Keep glutes activated and column neutral. Inhale and return, exhaling.
Fig.2 - THE HUNDRED-VARIATION
Lying in dorsal decubitus with legs flexed. Inhale and raise your head and, at the same time, extend both legs forward. Extend the arms along the body and then return to the starting position.
Fig.3 - SWAN
Belly down, pelvis and neutral column. Legs extended and arms flexed at the side of the trunk. Inhale to stretch the arms and raise the trunk. While expire, maintain the shape of the body in extension. While inspire, return gradually to the ground with the support of the hands always next to the body.
By Paula Marques, Physiotherapist at Academy Body Lab