Recent research has suggested that taking drugs is pointless when it comes to back pain – something that affects one in 10 of us. So what’s the solution?
Apparently it’s pilates. This holistic exercise system, which was designed to elongate and strengthen the body, does so much more than build a strong core and improve posture. Tony Diamond, Pilates instructor at Third Space, gives his top ten reasons why pilates should be a fundamental part of your fitness regime.
1. Pilates uses reformer machines to lengthen muscles while strengthening them at the same time. Most sport disciplines tend to have the opposite effect: muscles are shortened, or contracted, when strengthened and this can lead to injury.
2. Pilates focuses on all those little muscle groups that can be neglected in your training.
3. It’s known as a functional movement, thus very useful in increasing movement and improving technique needed for any given sport.
4. Students are drawn to pilates to improve posture, to alleviate back pain, shoulder immobility, knee problems, in fact any kind of ailment. Many athletes including high profile footballers, tennis players and track and field athletes have turned to pilates to improve performance.
5. Those who have highly stressed lifestyles are moving towards pilates as a way to calm their minds.
6. This relationship between mental and physical training is the foundation of pilates, developed by German body builder Joseph Pilates in the early 1920s. Joseph studied many different forms of movement including weight training, martial arts and Yoga. He came to the conclusion that within any sport discipline, both the mental and physical elements had to be respected. Most 21st Century athletes would agree.
7. The six principles of pilates are concentration, control, centre, flow, precision and breathing. Incorporating these principles in your life can address underlying structural imbalances in the body and help alleviate all manner of pain and difficulty in movement.
8. In a world which is becoming increasingly sedentary, we have become detached from our bodies. Pilates offers the chance to connect mind and body.
9. At this time of year we can feel tired, slow, stiff and we lack motivation. Introducing a different movement system in our training can re-awaken the appetite for fitness.
10. A common misconception is that pilates is easy and relaxed, a simple series of stretches similar to a gentle yoga session. The reality is that it can be quite challenging, even for the super-fit. Give your spine and mind the boost it needs.
Tony Diamond is a Pilates instructor at Third Space Soho. He studied with Polestar, one of the leading training courses in pilates, and Judith Aston, who is a direct student of Joseph Pilates. He has been practicing yoga for 20 years, giving him a unique teaching style that integrates movement from both disciplines.