Increase strength, flexibility with pilates

Pilates was designed by Joseph Pilates, a physical-culturist born in Germany in 1883. He developed a system of exercises during the first half of the 20th century which were intended to strengthen the human mind and body. Joseph Pilates believed that mental and physical health are inter-related.

He had practiced many of the physical training regimes which were available in Germany in his youth, and it was out of this context that he developed his own work.

The Pilates method seeks to increase the strength, flexibility and control of the body.

The six basic principles of Pilates are: concentration, control, centre, flow, precision and breathing.

Pilates requires intense focus / concentration: “You have to concentrate on what you´re doing. The entire time one must concentrate on their entire body”. This is not easy, but in Pilates the way the exercises are done is more important than the exercises themselves.

The reason one should concentrate is to be in control of every aspect of every moment. All exercises are done with control, with the muscles working to lift against gravity and its resistance thereby controlling the movement of the body.

In order to attain control of your body you must have a starting place: the centre. The centre is the focal point of the Pilates method. It refers to the group of muscles in the centre of the body – the abdomen, lower and upper back, hips, buttocks and inner thighs. All movement in Pilates should begin from the centre and flow outward to the limbs.

Flow or efficiency of movement
Pilates aims for efficiency of movement, creating flow through the use of appropriate transitions. Once precision has been achieved, the exercises are intended to flow within and into each other in order to build strength and stamina. In other words, it requires a strong centre or core.

Precision is essential to correct perform Pilates: The focus is on doing one precise and correct movement, rather than many which are not defined. The goal is for this precision to eventually become second nature, and carry over into everyday life.

Breathing is important in the Pilates method. Proper full inhalation and complete exhalation are key components to this.

Benefits of Pilates

· Promotes physical harmony for people of all ages and conditions
· Provides balance for people of all ages and physical conditions
· Can help speed recovery of soft tissue injuries and also prevent injuries
· Helps develop proper breathing
· Improves focus or concentration
· Improves postural problems
· Improves performance in sports
· Improves coordination
· Improves circulation

Y. Ramakrishna

The author is a Sports Performance Enhancement Specialist

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