Pilates is an exercise system designed in the 20th century by German born Joseph Pilates. He believed that mental and physical health were interrelated and developed his exercise system to strengthen both the mind and body. Pilates developed his exercise system around floor-based exercises called mat work and through the use of exercise equipment called apparatus. Today we would recognise this apparatus as the Pilates Reformer, the Cadillac, and Wunda Chair.
Pilates work is published in two books: Your Health: A Corrective System of Exercising That Revolutionizes the Entire Field of Physical Education in 1934, and Return to Life Through Contrology in 1945.
In recent years the term “Pilates” has become mainstream and is synonymous with any floor based, Swiss ball based or equipment based exercise system aimed at strengthening the core stability muscles. It has especially adopted by physiotherapists as a system to manage and maintain the health of the spine and help to treat and manage low back pain. Many other health professionals such as personal trainers have put their slant on Pilates creating exercises systems that designed around corrective exercise, movement and stability.
Modern day Pilates is a somewhat diluted version of Joseph Pilates original system. One could say that it has evolved in the hands of capable exercise instructors. This was also a necessary evolution, as many of the exercises that Joseph Pilates originally came up with would be considered contra-indicated or perhaps somewhat unsafe today. However the majority of his system is safe and appropriate to use.
Modern Pilates consists of primarily floor-based exercises aimed at connecting with and activating core stability muscles such as the transverse abdominus, the pelvic floor and the multifidus muscles. On top of this, activation of these muscles is taught with correct breathing. Once these muscles can be activated they need to chalanged to maintain contraction with movements of the arms and legs. Another progression would be to do these contractions and limb movements on an unstable surface such as a Swiss ball. Finally these muscles must be able to be recruited in a functional standing environment in tasks that are important such as lifting your kids, carrying shopping or bending forward.
This post was brought to you by Wandsworth Pilates studio who run small group sessions in their clinic in Wandsworth. For more information or to request a timetable visit their website.