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What Makes for a Good Pilates Practice?

Publish on - October 28, 2022

Greetings! My name is Eoin Everard. I am a chartered physiotherapist with a PhD in human movement and have been an Irish International Athlete for the past 20 years. I have ran sub 4 minutes for the mile, below 14 minutes for 5k and sub 30 minutes for 10K. I am also the current O35 3000m European Masters Champion

What is Pilates?

Initially, Pilates was called Contrology. So, the key thing for Pilates is controlling the body, being in control of the key movement you do by activating the muscles. Pilates can work on the mobilization of the joints and the activation of key muscles, such as the core, glute and postural muscles.

Good Pilate Practice

As a chartered Physio and Pilates instructor, one of the key things I try and enforce is the use of a neutral spine.

The neutral spine is essentially the middle position so there is a slight arch in the back. Sometimes some instructors will encourage imprinting the spine to the floor or rolling down. In my opinion this puts pressure on the discs and loses the bodies natural curves.

In my practice, I always encourage a neutral spine lordosis. So, finding the middle position is important. Then it is important to keep this position throughout the movement you do. This is the same with other key faults such as allowing the knee to collapse in during lunging or standing exercises. The knee should remain over the foot for exercises such  as lunging and also for glute bridging. This allows greater activation of the glutes and safer knee position. It is not just about doing the perfect exercises but doing them correctly.

So rather than doing something with poor form or technique, you are concentrating on keeping good technique throughout every exercise you do. This will have two major benefits;

  • Firstly, it teaches your body how to move correctly to feel more aligned afterwards. This will allow greater transfer to day to day living and other forms of exercise. For example if you learn how to lift or squat correctly with good control in Pilates you can use this improved technique when lifting at home or doing exercises during a HIIT or gym class.
  • Secondly, you get greater muscle activation because you constantly concentrate on contracting them fully. If your knees buckle in when you are doing a glute bridge you will not fully contract that glutes during the exercise. Doing a plank incorrectly with a larger arch in your back will cause your back muscles to work rather than your core muscles.

The first picture shows an excessive arch on the back which will not activate the core muscles correctly. The second with the BackAware Belt giving feedback shows the spine in a good position and the core being used to hold this good position.

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