Pilates incorporates many exercises that are designed to target and strengthen the bodies core.
But what do we mean by the core?
If thought of as a cylinder the core comprises of:
- The Diaphragm (deep muscle below the lungs) - as the lid at the top of the cylinder.
- The Transverse Abdominus (deep abdominal muscles)
- The Obliques (waist muscles)
- The Multifidis (deep spinal muscle)
- The Erector Spinae (larger muscles either side of the spine) - as the central cylinder.
- The Pelvic floor (deep muscle cradled by the pelvis) as the base of the cylinder.
Movement wise, these muscles control spinal flexion (bending sideways), extension (arching backwards) and rotation.
We utilise these movements continuously throughout our daily lives. From picking things up, to turning round to look out for traffic or engaging in amorous activity, the core muscles are at work.
This unique team of fibres encourage good posture by helping to stabilise the spine and support the torso, which helps keep us upright when sitting, standing, walking or running. As posture deteriorates throughout the ageing process utilising all we can to reverse this effect becomes increasingly important.
When standing from sitting, or when walking or running, a strong core helps to stabilise the pelvis, reducing the likeliness of it twisting in a particular direction. This helps distribute the bodies weight more equally between both legs and has a positive impact on hip and knee alignment and consequently joint health, essential when training hard over a long period of time and keeping the body injury free.
Core work is important when working with weights as it connects the upper body to the lower body. When this area is weak a lot of extra pressure can be placed on the spine and this can often lead to back pain or injury. And, as we all know, being out of action can seriously affect ones self esteem and attitude to exercise, prolonging recovery time.
In addition, strengthening the core can lead to a slimmer waist and contribute towards better balance. So, you can walk down the beach looking good and feeling confident and make sure you don’t fall over at the same time.
From reducing wear and tear on the spine to making you stand taller and feel better about yourself, core work is essential to exercise and Pilates is, without a doubt, the undisputed number one exercise form for helping you achieve a strong and mobile core.