I integrate Pilates Movement Principles into my teaching on various pieces of equipment the Core Align and Orbit board as well as through classic mat work.
What are Pilates Movement Principles?
Breath is not only the necessity of life but the means by which our muscles get oxygen. There are numerous ways to breathe. In Pilates, we direct the breath with purpose to facilitate muscle activation, spinal articulation, control and rhythm. Breathing cues help guide you to become more successful and feel healthier.
Core Activation calls upon the deep abdominals to support and protect the spine. Without these endurance muscles we couldn’t hold our bodies upright. Think of wrapping a wide piece of elastic around your waist from below your ribs to a point below your navel.
Working in a Neutral Pelvic position places your pelvis in the ideal spot for your femur heads to move correctly in your hip socket and for you to capably contract the pelvic floor muscles, some of your deepest core muscles. Anything other than neutral degrades movement quality. Can you find a neutral pelvis in a standing, sitting, all-fours and side lying positions? If not, you’re in luck pictures will soon be available.
Abdominal Strengthening includes all abdominal muscles used in crunching, pulling knees to chest, side bending and rotating the spine. In Pilates we target specific abdominal muscles with specific exercises to help clients draw the connection between muscles for better results. Would you like to tone those unruly muffin tops. More to come on this topic!
Are you a Gumby or a steel girder? Wouldn’t it be best to be somewhere in between? In order to move a body part you must have something stable to move from. Lumbo pelvic Stability provides just this and ties directly to the use of the pelvic floor muscles, gluteus and deep abdominal muscles.
Spinal Mobility and Strength allow us to bend over to pick something up and turn to see what’s behind us. In Pilates we try to move the spine in innumerable ways to ensure mobility and flexibility as we age. Strengthening muscles surrounding our spines helps us to move and avoid spinal compression. However, without proper cueing it’s easy to recruit the wrong muscles for instance in side bending. People with low bone density should avoid spinal flexion (bending forward) and flexion with rotation. Such movements can lead to a spinal compression fracture. Of course, we modify exercises to help people with low bone density to move safely as they benefit from the exercise.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to try this exercise. I have included it to show you that a healthy spine should have some extension backward. For example: Bending back over a ball or foam roller are mild ways to gain spinal extension. However, to strengthen those muscles you must extend in a position where you resist gravity such as laying face down on the floor. (See my tips for better bones. –upcoming article)
Scapular Stability and Mobility are keys to avoiding neck and back pain as well as rotator cuff injuries and shoulder dislocations. We have specific exercises to target weak and tight muscles as well as effective verbal and manual cueing to help clients break bad habits that usually lead to future problems.
Nowadays, with computers, driving, and I-devices, it’s easy sit too much and assume a rounded or forward posture with the head and shoulders slumped forward. This posture can lead to an increased chance of having a hump back (kyphosis) and even a more dangerous is the possibility of vertebral fracture in later years. Discussing Posture and performing a postural Analysis helps clients understand what to work toward. Try this: look at your side profile in the mirror and notice if your ears are forward of your shoulders. If so, your posture can be improved. But what muscles do you need to strengthen to maintain good posture? A topic for another Blog post!
Finally, Release Work encompasses more than just static stretching. Many times a client has to learn to turn off or release muscles for the proper ones to engage. In Pilates we work muscles in both ways to both strengthen and lengthen muscle groups. This also teaches muscle fibers to slide apart and together much like two combs that fit together and slip apart easily. In the shoulder girdle, three separate muscles often get tight, causing the shoulders to be forward with shoulder blades being raised and oftentimes resulting in neck tension or pain.
Do want more than just some exercises thrown at you to perform?
Imagine being coached through exercises and gaining a deeper understanding while associating those thoughts with the correct feeling. Wouldn’t you be better equipped to take what you’ve learned into everyday life? That will make a lasting change in how you move. Consistency is key! Practice Pilates with a skilled instructor’s help and you’ll be able to integrate lessons learned into your favorite sport or daily activity. You’ll feel better while you delay the effects of aging. Make this long term investment in your health before you develop aches and pains or certainly before they become unbearable. After all don’t you want to be active until the day you die?
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All American Betsy