Pilates is a fantastic form of exercise that focuses on stability, flexibility, balance and total body strength. For days when you are not practising it in a class or at home. There are ways to improve your Pilates practise by implementing simple reminders into your everyday routine.
Pilates is huge on posture. If you have ever done a Pilates class, you know that before you begin a class- you set your body into standing neutral.
Start at the feet. Feet hip distance apart and heels are grounded/heavy, and toes are light. Knees slightly bent and tracking directly over your ankles. Neutral pelvis (engage pelvic floor) and tracking over the knees. Ribs hugging your spine (by engaging your abdominals). Chest open, shoulder blades sliding down your back and tracking away from your neck. Spine is lengthened (imagine a string attached to the crown of your head that is pulling you up towards the ceiling). Head is floating on top (almost giving yourself a double chin).
Now that you have a neutral spine, you are free to move around! It may feel strange at first, but your body will thank you later after a long day of sitting at a desk or driving. Be sure to maintain the upright posture for all activities. Whether it be jogging, sitting, or just everyday errands. If you focus on keeping your spine in neutral, your joints will decrease in pain over time and your muscles will automatically hold you in this position. This posture is life changing.
Engaging your core
Again, this is the foundation of Pilates! Your core should be the centre of all your activities- and I mean ALL your activities.
From walking to running to sitting at your desk (we are seeing a trend here!). Engaging your core (front abdominals- the “6 pack” muscles, as well as your pelvic floor) is not only going to encourage the spine maintain its neutral posture but it will also aid in strengthening and build endurance to the trunk throughout the day! Let’s take walking/running as our main example. When we walk/run, there is a significant amount of downward pressure/force put on our pelvic floor that overtime if it is not strengthened, will cause issues such as incontinence and prolapse. By engaging your core (front abdominals AND pelvic floor) you are strengthening, working on hip stability (internal and external) and muscular endurance. All of these will translate to less pain and an overall better quality of life.
Try these ideas out during your day and track how you feel over the next few weeks! Are you standing taller? Do you have decreased pain in your back? Do you feel more stable in your trunk? Pilates is a great exercise but also translates seamlessly into regular day to day activities! Give it a try- your body will thank you!