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Barbara Grant

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The Top 4 Ways That Pilates Can Improve Your Overall Health

When we think of the benefits of Pilates we often think strong abs and a toned backside. But there’s much more to Pilates than a whittled waistline. Check out what else Pilates can do for you to improve your overall health and make you feel better.

 

Stretch your spine and spread the workload

One of the most common causes of back pain is lack of spinal mobility. When one segment of the spine is stiff and immobile, it forces all the movement into the more mobile segment, creating overwork, strain and often breakdown at those joints. Pilates enhances spinal mobility, creating more movement through the stiffer areas of the spine and spreading the workload. The result is better freedom of movement and a healthier, stronger spine, capable of supporting all your activities.

 

Stop peeing every time you laugh

Do you sometimes laugh so hard the tears run down your leg? Pelvic floor dysfunction is no joke. Overactive bladder syndrome affects countless women. Pilates creates strength and balance in the muscles of the pelvic floor which is part of the inner unit of “core muscles” that engage in every Pilates exercise. A healthy pelvic floor is necessary to normal sexual function and urinary continence. For those considering surgery for pelvic floor prolapse, PFilates TM a specifically designed pelvic floor rehabilitation program based on Pilates exercises has been clinically proven to help improve surgical outcomes and in some cases avoid surgery altogether.

 

Build better bones

Osteoporosis and low bone density is not an old lady disease.  It affects active women in their 40s and 50s too. Osteoporosis and low bone density are like the crumbling foundation of a house. It doesn’t matter how strong your muscles are, if the foundation of skeletal bones is porous and unstable, the foundation is going to crumble. Literally, your bones will break. Pilates resistance training, particularly on the Reformer or other spring –based Pilates resistance machines, helps build and maintain bone density keeping our bones healthy and strong.

 

Breath in. Breath out. Repeat.

If you are going to keep going at this crazy pace and not lose your mind, you have to find a way to deal with stress. We are pulled in a million directions – work, kids, family, community. The stresses are never ending, cumulative and hazardous to your health. Pilates teaches you to focus on the task at hand while letting go of the extraneous tension in your body and your mind. This mind-body connection, practiced over and over in your Pilates workout, transfers into your everyday life creating calm and control.

 

 

Barbara Grant is the President and Founder of Retrofit Pilates, a full-service studio located in Toronto’s Bloor West Village.

 

 

 

6 ways Pilates can help expectant and new moms

Pregnancy, childbirth, and the never-ending needs of a new baby place incredible physical and emotional demands on a woman. Committing to a specific Pilates program pre- and post-natal will do wonders to alleviate the back, hip, and shoulder pain that often accompanies pregnancy and new motherhood. Not to mention Pilates’ positive impact on the stubborn weight gain, the fog, and the fatigue. Here are six ways Pilates can help both expectant and new mothers.

1. Pull up your privates and strengthen your pelvic floor

A Pilates program that incorporates enhanced Keigel exercises with squats and lunges will strengthen your pelvic floor muscles before and after baby. Your pelvic floor muscles are highly stressed during pregnancy and labour and are often damaged during delivery. It’s important to rehabilitate your pelvic floor because those muscles play a vital role in healthy sexual function, urinary and anal continence, and core support of your spine and pelvis.

2. Connect to your core and build a strong foundation

Pilates will strengthen your deep-core abdominal muscles to ease pelvis and back pain and provide more support for weight changes and your shifting centre of gravity. Remember your core is not just your belly! Pilates strengthens, balances, and tones your deep back, buttock, and hip muscles too.

3. Ease the fatigue with better posture and improved flexibility

Your body goes through massive changes during pregnancy and then suddenly you are spending hours cradling, feeding, and carrying your baby. Plus your breasts are huge! All of this compromises your posture creating neck, shoulder, back, and hip stiffness and fatiguing your already exhausted body. Pilates will lengthen and strengthen your spine creating better posture and keeping your body in optimal alignment for everyday activities.

4. Power up those pipes

New babies may not weigh much at first, but they grow fast! Carrying around a 10-15 pound baby for hours every day – not to mention the weight of the car seat and diaper bag – requires upper-body strength. Pilates will not only strengthen your arms and shoulders, it will teach your body how to lift and carry in the most efficient way – strengthening your entire back.

5. Build muscle for better weight loss

It took nine months to put on the baby weight, it’s going to take at least that long and often up to a year to lose it. Total body conditioning with Pilates resistance training will build muscle and rev up your metabolism making weight loss easier. Plus you will feel better all over.

6. Connect mind and body to create a quiet calm

Pregnancy and motherhood are stressful. The concentration, precision, and purposeful breathing of your Pilates work-out will get you back in tune with your body and focus your mind on creating an inner calm.

It’s hard to find time to take care of your own needs when all your energy is focused on the new wee person in your life. Of course we know you will have an easier time after your baby is born if you work at getting strong, fit, and centered before the birth. But it’s never too late – or too early – to get started.

Follow Barbara on Twitter at @BarbaraGrant7 and @RetrofitPilates.

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