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What is Pilates?
Pilates is a method of body conditioning, combining strength, exercise, flexibility, breathing and body awareness and control. Pilates takes a wholeistic approach to body conditioning, seeking to engage body and mind to improve strength, flexibility, body balance and mobility.
How Does Pilates Work?
Pilates uses a series of controlled exercises (usually performed slowly). The Pilates practitioner is taught to focus on the body's proper position and be aware of how the body feels in each movement. This mental control helps prevent injuries, increases the exercises' effectiveness and engages all the muscles the movement was intended for, promoting muscle balance and integration.
Most Pilates exercises are performed on a floor mat or specifically designed apparatus. Exercises include those aimed at helping to warm up the body and aid breathing and exercises designed to work major muscle areas such as the abdominal core and help stretch others. Pilates exercises often work multiple muscles during the same exercise. Pilates is taught one on one or in a class. Sessions are usually 45 minutes to 1 hour long, during which breath control and body movements are continually monitored.
How Can Pilates Help Back Pain?
Pilates practitioners work on the basis that decline and imbalance in strength and flexibility of the body can lead to back injury. Pilates focuses on the development of strength and flexibility in a controlled manner to help rehabilitate and prevent back injury.
The sequence of exercises practiced during Pilates sessions work to strengthen core muscles and correct muscle imbalances in the body. Pilates can also address poor posture, known to cause back pain. Improper posture creates continual stress on the body causing muscle imbalances and often leaving one side of opposing muscles weaker. Pilates helps to engage the core muscles and promote muscular balance, alignment and good posture. The work-out provided by a Pilates session and promotion of muscular balance can also reduce stress which is believed to be a factor in many instances of back pain.