How Does Pilates Differ from Other Exercise?

Joseph Pilates developed his system of exercise, first called “Contrology,” in the early 20th century. It quickly caught on with dancers and others interested in perfecting their posture, improving range of motion in their joints, and strengthening their core.

Pilates is an entirely different way to exercise, especially compared to many of the workouts you’ll see on the gym floor that involve heaving heavy weights and pounding on a treadmill.

Pilates works with your body

Classical Pilates has its roots in helping ill and infirm veterans returning from World War I overcome their disabilities. Pilates doesn’t require a lot of extra weights or gadgets, rather it uses your own ability to precisely control your muscles to build quiet strength.

Whether you’re executing roll-ups and teasers in a mat class or performing leg circles on the reformer, all of the Pilates exercises emphasize control. You summon this control by stabilizing your core — or as Pilates called it, the “powerhouse.”

By strengthening your core, you develop an internal power that serves you every day in every activity you do.

Pilates provides a low-impact workout

Unlike weight workouts or classic cardio that involves running, elliptical training, or jumping, Pilates is entirely low-impact. Most of the exercises are performed while seated or lying down, with the occasional movement done from a standing position. This means you’re able to participate and benefit from the exercises even if you have a joint injury.

Plus, research shows that once you’ve built up your conditioning to a point where you’re doing Pilates exercises at a moderate to advanced level, you also get some cardiovascular benefit from the workout.

Pilates is core-focused

The crux of Pilates is learning to engage your deep abdominal muscles during each movement. This serves as a solid base for exercises done for the extremities and supports the health of your spine.

A strong core improves your posture and makes movement, during other workouts or normal daily activities, more efficient. Plus, you get the added benefit of a flatter, leaner stomach.

Studies that measure the electrical activity of the muscles during exercise show that all Pilates exercises beat out the basic crunch in terms of abdominal muscle recruitment.

Pilates reduces pain

By working every muscle in your body and allowing them all to share in the effort, Pilates can put you in balance and undo pain resulting from overused or overstressed muscles.

Pilates also works some of the micro-muscles that other workouts neglect. These stabilizing muscles take some of the brunts off the larger ones, like your hamstrings and glutes, that can be vulnerable to injury.

If all that wasn’t enough, Pilates is also proven to reduce back pain by training the deep stabilizing muscles of your core, including the quadratus lumborum, transverse abdominis, and multifidus. The entirety of your trunk learns to support you when you walk, lift, or sit, so your back doesn’t take on an undue burden and break down.

Pilates is an excellent complement to total body health with benefits not seen in many popular workouts. Seek out a Pilates class today.

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