Pilates Approach to Abdominals
One of the main principals of the Pilates work is to develop a strong core or ‘core stability’.
Joseph Pilates believed that this was essential to improve and maintain fitness, maximize rehabilitation programs, as well as achieving the best results in preventing injuries.
This concept has now been validated by research. It is vital that core stability is achieved as part of your Pilates training. Your joints are stable using the bony, muscular and ligamentous systems, as well as relying on the nervous system to accurately provide a sense of the joint position called ‘proprioception’.
Pilates uses the two classifications of muscles in the body ;
Postural / Stabilising Muscles
These are deep muscles which are in close proximity to the joints. Their role is to act at a constant and low level to support posture, stabilise joints of the body and adapt to postural changes. They should contract prior to movement.
Movement / Phasic Muscles
Generally, more superficial and contract intermittently as required to produce movement used in daily activities.
Stabilising muscles tend to become weak and inhibited and unable to fulfil their role due injury, prolonged poor posture, incorrect or unbalanced exercise programs, surgery, pain or a sedentary lifestyle.
Pain and swelling from injury cause the stability muscle to be ‘switched off’. The stability muscles do not automatically regain their normal function without specific re-training. The body tries to compensate by calling on the ‘movement muscles’ to help stabilise the body. These muscles then become overactive, tight and often painful and so the cycle of imbalance, pain and injury continues.
In the past, training and rehabilitation has mainly focussed on increasing the strength of global muscles and has not always addressed stability muscles.
Pilates provides intervention through a specific, individual, pain-free conditioning program which isolates and strengthens the stabilising muscles in a functional manner.
The Pilates program restores the correct length, flexibility and activity in the movement muscles and nervous system. Correct balance between the postural and movement muscles is the aim.
Ultimately, this leads to reduced pain and injury, improved posture and body awareness.