The History & Benefits of Pilates
The History of Pilates
Pilates was originally created by Joseph Hubertus Pilates in the 1920s. He was a very sickly child, suffering from asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever and so decided to help himself by devising an exercise programme to create external strength where internal weakness existed.
Joseph Pilates believed that poor health could be attributed to the modern life-style, bad posture and inefficient breathing. He ultimately devised a series of exercises and training-techniques and engineered all the equipment, specifications and tuning required to teach his methods properly.
The Benefits of Pilates
Most of us have at some stage experienced spinal pain. This can be traumatic in nature, perhaps having lifted something or simply a postural issue, caused by sitting for long periods of time or adopting certain positions in day-to-day life. Pilates is known for activating postural muscles thus aiding the bigger muscle groups to work more efficiently. By working on those small, stabilising muscles, the body can function more effectively and allows the individual to maintain certain positions or postures more easily.
Other joints are also helped in terms of stability as well. Hip, knee, ankle and shoulder control can all be increased through Pilates exercises, working on specific muscles that support and stabilise these areas.
Being able to breathe correctly is essential to everyday life and in Pilates we instruct the use of the lower ribcage to breathe as it helps to activate the correct stability muscles.
The breathing pattern is often used during classes for relaxation techniques. Focussing on the breath in and out can calm a stressed mind and aid relaxation. You will often have a good nights’ sleep following a Pilates class.
Although Pilates is a gentle form of exercise, there is a definite strength required to achieve some of the more challenging exercises. This strength comes from the outer unit of muscles which are able to function once the inner core is ‘switched on’.
Pilates is really helpful in creating a good posture. The exercise strengthens the postural muscles, allowing the spine to function more efficiently. People who may have a sedentary job and have to adopt static positions through the day are able to better control their posture thud helping to reduce potentially painful joints.
Pilates exercises muscles that help with overall balance and the awareness of ‘where your body is in space’. People, who are a little unsteady on their feet or have suffered an ankle injury that affects their balance, may find that Pilates can help with these issues.
Pilates not only exercises the body but also the mind. The need for concentration on what the body is doing allows the mind to ‘switch off’ from the everyday stresses of life or work. Pilates can help with stress and anxiety, aiding relaxation and a better quality of emotional wellbeing.