The fitness industry is a bit like the ocean, with a constant flow of gimmicks and trends that come and go with the tides. Yet Pilates has withstood the test of time and is one of the more effective ways to keep yourself fit, especially for those looking to prevent back pain.
Pilates is a great way to stay in shape, specifically for the key fitness areas of strength, stability and suppleness (flexibility). The one thing it doesn't give your body is a cardiovascular workout. So, while Pilates won't give you total fitness per se, it does tick a lot of boxes.
Pilates dates back to the early parts of the 20th century, when Joseph Pilates (the son of a gymnast and naturopath) developed his own method of exercise techniques. The principles he devised to help stretch, strengthen and balance the body are said to have helped in the treatment of injured soldiers during World War I.
The focus of Pilates is on using the mind to control the body’s core muscles, essential in providing support for your spine. The Pilates’ method consists of moving slowly through a series of sustained exercises using abdominal control and proper breathing techniques.
There are two varieties, one with mainly floor-based exercises and the other involving equipment. Both require professional tuition, which can be found at gyms and specialised studios.
Pilates is fantastic for those 80 per cent of Australians that get back pain (click here to find out how exercise can help your back pain) at some stage in their life because it strengthens the body's core, which in turn gives support to the back. If you are pregnant, over 45, have an injury, or heart disease (including high blood pressure), consult your GP before undertaking Pilates classes and notify the instructor about any health issues you may have before the lesson starts.
Even if you're not going to join a Pilates class, but still want to focus on your core strength, don’t worry. You don't necessarily need to join a class to enjoy the benefits Pilates can offer for joint health. If you'd like to try core stability exercises or are looking for new ones, begin with some simple Core Stability Exercises that you can do at home or at work.