Pilates is a series of exercises techniques that can help with strength and flexibility, providing musculoskeletal and overall health benefits.
History of Pilates
Pilates is an exercise system that was created by Joseph Pilates in early half of the 20th century. It can also be known as “Contrology”. Joseph took a holistic approach to developing his system; he believed in the connection of the mind and body. The original Pilates required special equipment, and the “Classical/Traditional” method still employs those techniques. “Modern” Pilates can now be done anywhere, without specialized apparatus. It has 6 principles associated with it: flow, center, control, breathing, and precision. The creator of the exercise system believed in muscle control, “working to lift against gravity and resistance”. Focus and precision are also required. Concentration methods can even be used to relieve degenerative Parkinson’s disease symptoms. The area around the mid-section of the body, the lower andupper back, hips, buttocks, thighs, and abdomen are all called the “powerhouse”, and all movement is centered around this region. All flowing movement comes from the core. This exercise system also requires control in breathing, with complete inhalation and exhalation methods. While both may be considered part of CAM therapies, Pilates and yoga do differ. Yoga concentrates on the spine and limbs, where Pilates starts with abdominal strength. Yoga principles are also different, and its origins are more spiritual. Pilates exercises are done more by lying down, whereas yoga positions tend to involve standing. Both exercise systems focus on the mind-body connection, and both can use just mats, or props such as straps, blocks, or balls. Both types of exercises are helpful for circulation, as well.1
There are many types of exercises to do in this exercise system. Some involve equipment found at a Pilates studio, but others can be done at home. Ball techniques include “Mermaid with Ball”, “Swan on Ball”, “Footwork on Ball”, “Roll Back and Up”, and “Coordination with Ball”. Some exercises without the ball are called “Rollover”, “Back Arm Rowing”, and “Mermaid with Twist”. Taken together, the exercises can provide a complete body workout, even at home. A Pilates ball is an inexpensive alternative to a Reformer machine.2
As a type of CAM therapy, Pilates can not only increase the fitness of healthy people, but it can work on people with various conditions. It has been found to be “an effective and safe method to improve physical capacity” in patients with ankylosing spondylitis.3 It can increase self-esteem and “life satisfaction”, in women.4 In terms of upper spine posture, abdominal strength, and core posture, it can be helpful in preventing disorders of the neck and shoulders.5 This exercise system is useful in improving body awareness, posture, strengthening, and stretching. It also improves core strength and body control.6
Learn more information about various CAM therapies.