5 Benefits Of Pilates For Every Mum
- Mums & Bubs
Whether your lower back aching is aching from carrying bub or you're aware of your not-so-great posture, Pilates can fix that - all while providing some healthy "me time" and giving you the chance to stop and breathe.
Here are just some of the reasons why Pilates is a worthwhile investment - for your physical health and your sanity!
1. Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor
Stress incontinence - or passing a little bit of urine when you sneeze or cough - is something you might be all too familiar with after having given birth. Enter Pilates, which is all about activating your deepest stomach muscle - the transversus abdominus; this works closely with the pelvic floor.
"The pelvic floor is a group of muscles that support the bladder and other organs in your pelvic region area," Certified Pilates Instructor Ildi of Perform Pilates in Stanmore explains.
"There are times, such as pregnancy or if you have a prolapse in your life where your pelvic floor may become weaker....During a Pilates class, the exercises work to strengthen all the muscles in your body, so your pelvic floor muscles can’t help but get stronger as your whole body gets stronger.
"There are certain Pilates exercises that target specific areas of the body, such as the pelvic floor but effectively, as muscles connect to each other, all muscles will get a workout and get stronger."
2. Get A Full-Body Workout
"When developing and documenting the Pilates series of exercises, Joseph Pilates only ever mentioned that the exercises were 'for the body'. He never spoke of specific muscle groups. While some exercises isolate or target certain muscle groups, it is not uncommon to feel the exercise in muscles close to the target area," Ildi says.
"The series of movements that you do on the Reformer require your body to move in different directions, so it will be your whole body that will feel the workout. Imbalances are corrected as you work unilaterally with various movement patterns. Pilates exercises target every muscle in the body and work your muscles under tension. This in turn helps to build muscle, strengthen and tone the whole body."
3. Improve Your Posture
Slouchers take note: proper form and posture is a key aspect of pilates, and with that comes less neck and back pain. The more you go, the more you’ll find yourself consciously correcting your posture outside of the studio.
"As your muscles strengthen and develop, your body aligns and becomes stronger which then improves your posture," Ildi says. "The stabilising muscles around your spine such as the erector spinae are strengthened and toned."
Coordination and balance are also likely to improve, "as your body gets stronger in supporting you through day to day functioning. Loss of balance is something many people face as they get older, but with more practise, your balance improves," important for reducing osteoporosis risk down the track.
Flexibility is also something that gets better as you practise Pilates more. Ildi says it helps "to keep you upright and balance, and to prevent atrophy (muscle wasting) that can happen if you don’t follow a regular exercise routine."
4. Transition Back To Exercise Safely
"Pregnancy and childbirth put strain on the body and the body needs time to recover before resuming exercise," says Ildi.
"Once you have [approval] from your doctor, Pilates can be a great way into strengthening the body again. Reformer Pilates doesn’t put pressure on joints, like running or other forms of cardiovascular training might. [It] works your muscles safely, and works them under tension with resistance."It is important for people over the age of 45 to find weight bearing exercises, such as Pilates, as the muscles begin to degenerate and it becomes harder for the body to build muscle."
5. Reconnect With Your Breath
Focus on deep breathing is required during the movements and between movements, Ildi says.
"When we are stressed, we develop quick and shallow breathing responses which are connected to our fight or flight survival instincts. Pilates focuses on slowing the breathing down which serves to shake the deep breathing that may have developed in response to the stress patterns.
"One of the things my clients say is that the great thing about Reformer Pilates is that you have to listen to cues and instructions during class to get the exercises right...you can’t really think about anything else except how you body moves and travels in the exercise."
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