What is Pilates?

 

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Pilates is a form of exercise that if performed regularly, re-establishes correct muscle recruitment which restores good posture.  This is achieved by identifying which muscles are weak, strong, short, long etc. and then correcting the muscle imbalances by stretching and relaxing tight, short muscles and then strengthening weak, long ones.  This is unlike many other forms of exercise that strengthens further, the already strong muscles, resulting in even more of an imbalance.

A typical example of muscle imbalance is the trapezius group of muscles.  Lower trapezius, a back muscle, can be weak so upper trapezius, another back muscle, takes on it's role of shoulder blade (scapula) stabiliser.  Upper trapezius then becomes tight because it is doing a job that it is not designed to do.  This is why a lot of people are tight in their shoulders.  Pilates can isolate and strengthen a specific muscle such as lower trapezius, to allow the over dominant muscle, in this case upper trapezius, to relax and let go.  The result is a long, lean and strong body with hidden strength.  This is all down to Pilates unique effectiveness at restoring the correct way we use and recruit our muscles.  In fact, it's the way we used to move as children.

Poor muscle recruitment, which is likely when muscles are not at their correct length, can play havoc, often resulting in joints being held out of alignment.  There are many attributing factors for this, such as a sedentary lifestyle, sustained positions, workplace conditions, repetitive movements, stress, illness, and injuries.  Since it is likely that these changes have occurred over a period of time, this faulty movement pattern can feel normal.  Usually pain is the first sign that there is a problem; although some people have bad posture and no pain.

Pilates re-trains the body to work efficiently, with minimal effort.  Stamina and co-ordination are improved as the body comes into perfect balance and alignment.  The immune system is stimulated and the level of general health very often increases as the internal organs can now dwell in their correct place and function correctly.