What is Pilates?
Pilates is a low impact form of exercise designed to strengthen the body, increase core stability, improve posture and flexibility. It was invented by Joseph Pilates who originally designed this form of exercise to rehabilitate soldiers, much later attracting professional dancers for its ability to create long, lean muscles and eventually the general public. It is also very popular amongst physiotherapist to help with treatment for their patients. Pilates can be easily modified for all abilities/ needs and is effective in treating back pain and recovering from an injury.
So lets dive into the world of Pilates!
Understanding the basics:
Neutral and Imprinted Spine
Neutral spine is allowing the natural curve of the lumbar spine to be present. It shouldn’t be too large and it shouldn’t be flattened out. To determine a neutral pelvis begin by lying on your back and draw an imaginary triangle between the pubic bone and the hip bones, the triangle should be parallel to the floor. There should be a small gap between your lumbar spine and the mat.
Imprinted Spine refers to the lower back being drawn closer to the floor without the tail bone lifting up. So when lying on your back the pubic bone should sit slightly higher than the hip bones. Note: People who have a disc bulge shoudl NOT do imprinted spine.
T-zone is the transversus abdominus and the pelvic floor muscles combined together. To find your t-zone start by lying on your back, knees bent and a neutral spine. Pelvic floor first, gently draw up the pelvic floor muscles as if you are stopping yourself from going to the toilet you should feel the muscles draw upwards. Once these muscles are tight, think of drawing the two hip bones towards each other. If you place your fingers just inside the hipbones you should feel the muscles tighten slightly under your fingers. Put altogether you should feel the muscles are drawing upwards, across towards the centre and in towards the spine. You shouldn’t be holding your breath while you do this and the spine should stay neutral.
The t-zone is the basis of every exercise and must be activated prior to commencing each exercise and held throughout.
Is the deepest of the abdominal muscles and is a stabiliser of the spine. It is considered to be the most important of the abdominal muscles and has been found to be in a weakened state in those who have chronic back pain or back problems. It’s normal action functions to form a deep internal corset that acts to draw the abdominals in and stabilise the back during movement. This pattern of protection is disrupted in patients with low back pain.
The pelvic floor is a group of muscles which together form an internal sling which provides support to hold the pelvic and abdominal organs in place also bladder and bowel control.