Pilates is a body conditioning system created over eighty years ago by Joseph H. Pilates. Initially popular with dancers and other performers, the Pilates method has become popular in the fitness world. Exercises performed on the floor, or on specialized equipment, Pilates coordinates mind, body and breath to develops functionally strong abdominal muscles, and strong and supple back.
The aim of Pilates is to optimize musculoskeletal performance by improving strength, flexibility and endurance, without risking injury or building bulk. With the focus on core stability, Pilates helps to restore the natural curves of the spine, relieve tension and enhance self-confidence
Breathing properly encourages effective oxygenation of the blood. It will help to relax the muscles and avoid unnecessary tension. Exhaling deeply can also help activate the deep support muscles. Breathing is encouraged into the lower lobes of the lungs to establish a full breath pattern. Breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth. Exhale through slightly pursed lips -- feel a contraction of the abdominal muscles.
Our spine has 3 natural curves throughout its entirety. In relation to the pelvis the lower part of the spine, the lumbar has a natural curve ( lordotic curve). For effective stability two different placements are utilized.
Neutral Placement: the natural lordotic curve of the lumbar spine is present. This is the most stable and optimal shock-absorbing position to be in -- when supine, the triangle formed by the hip bones and the pubic bone should lie parallel to the mat. Imprinted placement: refers to a slight posterior pelvic tilt with slight lumbar flexion. The pubic bone will be slightly higher than the pelvic bones. The pelvis should stay in contact with the floor. This placement is usually used when the legs are off the floor.
The abdominal wall attaches to the lower ribs. To keep the rib cage in good alignment, be aware of maintaining abdominal engagement (connection) and not ‘popping’ the ribs. Allow the ribs to move with each exhalation and allow both sides of the rib cage to close in toward each other, imagining the anterior ribs sliding down toward the pelvis.
Without stabilizing the scapulae (shoulder blades) there is a tendency to overwork the trapezius and other muscles around the neck and upper shoulders. Keep the feeling of gently sliding the scapulae down the back and in toward the spine in a V. A sense of width should be maintained across the front and back of the shoulder girdle. The shoulders should not be allowed to either round forward or squeeze together toward the spine. The scapulae should lie flat on the rib cage . This should be part of the initiation of all exercises to discourage neck tension.
The cervical spine should hold its natural curve and the skull should balance directly above the shoulders when sitting in neutral. In most instances, the cervical spine should continue the line created by the thoracic spine during flexion and extension. Focus on creating thoracic flexion and not overemphasizing cervical flexion. The movement should come from a lengthening the back of the neck away from the shoulders and not from jamming the chin into the chest and there should be enough room between the chin and chest to fit a small fist.
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