by guest blogger Annabel Scott, owner of Pilates Manitoba
Pilates is a brilliant form of neuro-muscular-skeletal re-patterning. It is a series of controlled and accurate small movement exercises that require lots of thinking and mindful meditation. The specialized equipment (reformer, cadillac and stability chairs are spring loaded for mind-body feedback, control and oppositional force. Pilates is functional fitness, the equivalent of being your own physiotherapist or occupational therapist, as the building block moves are all function based i.e learning to lift your leg properly to climb the stairs or get off of a toilet seat. All Pilates moves can be adapted and modified so any person can enjoy its many physical and mental health benefits.
Pilates is a workout for the tonic muscle system, the involuntary part of your nervous system that operates our breathing, tongue, heart (the one that is hardwired into your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system). These muscles cannot be loaded so we cannot expect a sweaty contraction feeling that we get with phasic or global muscles that move us. We are wired to stabilize before we mobilize. Pilates works that pattern and corrects any faulty movement patterns. It must be practiced daily to maximize pain-free movement and joint liberation results. It is the best “work-in” you can create for owning your core. Your brain is your core.
Because of its neurological basis and its fitness benefits, anyone can do Pilates, especially cerebral palsy.
Norah began her Pilates journey with us in 2008. She suffered from pain and discomfort and had an unsteady gait. Because Norah had the desire to work hard and use her brain to listen, activate and internalize the sequencing pattern for stability, she succeeded in improving mobility, range of motion and enhanced pain-free movement. Her gait is smoother and her movement more fluid. Her breathing has deepened in quality, as her diapraghm has aligned properly. Norah did try other movement forms such as yoga, but focusing on a stretch is not enough. Pilates is the most efficient movement education. You work your brain, your nervous system, your layers of muscles and your spirit. You become a better thinker, breather, mover and decision maker due to the deep mind-body connectivity. You own it forever. It is more that just exercise. It is a profound and powerful life-changing tool.