Pilates is a system of exercises designed to improve strength, flexibility and posture. It was developed and refined by Joseph Pilates whom believes it can be understood executed properly only after knowing the 5 fundamental principles.
- Breathe into the base and sides of your rib cage and maintain a natural inhalation and exhalation pattern. Most importantly make sure you dont hold your breath.
- Hold neutral spine. This is the natural little curve in your lower back. If you are lying on the ground, you should be able to fit one hand between the floor and the lower back.
- Keep the rib cage soft and prevent it from flaring by engaging your abdominal muscles.
- Promote proper scapular control by thinking ‘wide collar bone’ movement ensuring the scapulars remain secured to the rib cage.
- Elongated back of the neck and the chin slightly tucked in for proper head and cervical position.
Pilates is great for spinal mobility, core stabilityy, and upper and lower body strengthening. With these basics in mind, here are five Pilates moves (with a little bit of a Precision Physio twist) you can start today:
- Hip hinge: This is a great movement pattern to use in your daily activities to reduce the strain on your back. Start off with the feet hip width apart, knees soft and find neutral spine position in standing. Keep your back in neutral spine whilst you hinge forward from the hips and then back up to the starting positon. Only go as far as your hips allow and keep your arms nice and soft throughout. Repeat 10-15 times.
2. Arm and leg float: Start on all fours with your hands underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips. Find neutral spine position and then gently engage your pelvic floor and deep core muscles to stabilise your trunk. Keeping this position, inhale and gently lift one arm and the opposite leg up off the ground until they are aligned with the trunk. Exhaling, as you gently lower them back to the ground. Switch to the other side. Repeat 5-8 times on each side. 3. Dead bugs: Lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, knees in line with the hips. Elongated back of the neck with the chin gently tucked in. Find neutral spine position with the ribs soft and the then float one leg at a time up into tabletop position (where the thighs are perpendicular to the floor and the shins are parallel at 90 degrees). With the elbows straight, bring the fingertips up to the roof. From here, engage the core muscles and as you exhale, gently lower one arm above the head and the opposite leg towards the ground hovering both 5-10cm off the ground and then inhale and bring them both back to the starting position. Switch to the opposite arm and leg and repeat. Repeat 8 10 on each side. 4. Bridges: Lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, knees are in line with hips. Elongated back of the neck with the chin gently tucked in. Find neutral spine position with the ribs soft and the hands palms down into the mat next to the hips. Inhale as you flatten the lower back into the floor and start by lifting up the tail bone. Peeling the tail bone, then the sacrum, lower spine and then thoracic spine so that you are resting up on the spine in between the shoulder blades. Once at the top, start exhaling and then lay the spine, vertebrae by vertebrae back on the floor. Imagine your spine is like a string of pearls and you want to lift/lower each vertebra one at a time. 5. Swimming: Lying on your stomach, feet together, hands straight above the head, neck elongated and forehead resting on the mat. Engage the core muscles to make the belly nice and light on the mat, inhale as you lift one arm and the opposite leg, hold for a second before slowly exhaling and lowering the arm and leg back to the mat. Switch to the other arm and leg and repeat on the other side. Repeat 8-10 times on each side. Try to keep the belly nice and light on the mat. If you enjoyed these exercises and what to do more find a local Pilates studio and get involved!